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Processed World • Issue 22 • Summer 1988 

CHOKING HEADS collective editorial 2 

LETTERS from our readers 4 

DOLLARS & ECOLOGY article hy liicius cabins 6 

BAD ECOTUDE EVERYWHERE! tale of toil by green fuchsia 12 

PRIMITIVE THOUGHT by zeke teflon l6 

MUDSHARK FOR HIRE tale of toil by med-o 18 


AUTODESTRUCTION by m. crawdaddy and others 26 



NEW UTOPIA commentary by r. singer 35 

ATM 666 a true life story by zoe noe 35 

POETRY blumenthal. daniels, beck, talcott. parts, robertson 38 

LEARNING CURVE fiction byprimitiro morales 40 

DICK'S DAY fiction by dorothy hamill 44 

COLLECTIVE: Med-o, Emily Post-it, Green 
Fuchsia, Louis Michaelson, R.L. Tripp, Frog, 
D. Hayes, Zoe Noe, Pauline Pesticide, Ana 
Logue, Saricis Manouchian, Shelley Fern 
Diamond, Primitivo Morales, Mark Leger. 

CONTRIBUTORS: Moammar Crawdaddy, 
Richard Singer, Chaz Bufe, Lucius Cabins, 
Dorothy Hamill, Jim Daniels, T.E., William 
Talcott, Tom Tomorrow, D. Minkler, Paris 
Blazey, Rob Robertson, Care, Marianna King, 
D.S. Black, Andrea Kassof, Great Red Rad 
Nad, Mars Mensch, Jay Blumenthal, JRS, 
Marce Hall, Laura Beck, I.B. Nelson , Marl Cala 


Processed World is a project of the Bay Area Center for Art & Technology. Processed World is collectively 

produced. . .only the printer gets paid. For information on B.A.C.A.T. (a non-profit organization) contact: 

B.A.C.A.T., 37 Clementina St., San Francisco, CA 94105— (41 5) 49S-6823. 

Processed World is indexed in the Alternative Press Index. All articles, stories, and graphics reflect the 

view and fantasies of the author, and not necessarily those of other contributors, PW, or BACAT. 

ISSN 0735-9381. 

Front Cover by Tom Tomorrow 

Back Cover by Lucius Cabins 

Clean Air XV> 

^eam ;„ ,^?,"9 *fte facte ^ity: i"*^ 

The ecologiczil crisis is no longer a 
threat. It is here. Even if aill of the 
ecocidal practices of the global production 
system were halted tomorrow, irreparable 
damage has already been done. Mass ex- 
tinction of species, destruction of the 
rainforests, loss of the protective ozone 
layer and the "greenhouse" global warm- 
ing effect all will continue to have dis- 
ruptive effects through the next century. 
We can only work to ameliorate the 

Processed World has consistently sought 
to puncture the myth of computer pro- 
duction and use as "clean" and "safe." We 
have not been alone in criticizing elec- 
tronic technology from an ecological view- 
point. What has set us apart, however, 
has been our focus on this technology as 
work — on the nature of this work, on the 
kinds of social relations and subjective 
experience it engenders, and on its goals 
and functions within the global economy. 

From the start, PM^has criticized most 
modern work as useless from the stand- 
point of the common social good, for 
damaging workers physically and psycho- 
logically, and for wasting precious re- 
sources including billions of hours of 
people's time that could be used in far 
more worthwhile ways. Our critique dif- 
fers from that of the environmental move- 
ment, which adopts the viewpoint of the 
citizen-consumer rather than the worker. 
The environmentalist's perspective may 
be vaJid but by itself can lead to serious 
mistakes. Especially in the current anti- 
worker political climate, it tends to pro- 
duce reformist, technocratic strategies. 
Either the movement engages in hold- 
ing actions (e.g. lawsuits based on en- 
vironmental impact reports) or it tries to 
persuade those in power to include eco- 
logical factors in their cost-benefit analysis. 

Since the movement is composed largely 
of dropouts or converts from the technical- 
professional layers of the population, its 
critique of capitalist waste is too often 

limited to guilt-tripping workers for doing 
their admittedly sometimes ecologically 
destructive jobs, for owning cars and for 
consuming too much. In its most extreme 
form, this kneejerk anti-consumerism 
leads to protofascist "deep ecology" di- 
versions into species self-hate, racism and 
homophobia; all disguised as "honoring 
ecological balance." By contrast, the 
Greens in Europe, particularly West 
Germany, have made a more cogent 
critique of the production system. While 
some Greens participate in the conven- 
tional electoral arena, others advocate 
direct democratic planning as a solution 
instead of telling the system's victims 
(workers) to pay through conservation 
and austerity. As the forests of Northern 
Europe wither under acid rain, alterna- 
tive plans are being elaborated by tens 
of thousands of ordinary working people 
as well as techno-dropouts and marginal 
youth. TTiese people realize that the forests 
are not just a "resource" but are precious 
in their own right. For the most part, 
however, they have not yet made the leap 
of recognizing that they themselves must 
begin taking collective responsibility for 
the biosystem — that the big, centralized 
hierarchical institutions are obsolete, 
dangerous and must be replaced. 
If there is one conclusion to be drawn 
from the most recent round of eco-disas- 
ters, it is that patchwork reform of these 
institutions and the industrial system they 
control is hopeless. We cannot return to a 
neolithic or medieval technological level, 
as some of the movement's "radicals" 
propose. Necessary repairs to the planet 
will involve our most sophisticated scien- 
tific/technological knowledge, along with 
knowledge we haven't yet acquired. 

Equally important, production for 
profit's sake has got to go. Much of the 
existing industrial base needs to be dis- 
mantled or radically converted. All tech- 
nologies need to be evaluated according 
to the effects on their users, on the im- 

mediate surroundings, and on the long- 
term health of the biosphere. And this 
evaluation can only be made by the people 
most affected as workers and local resi- 
dents, in consultation with "experts' under 
no pressure to exonerate hazardous me- 
thods and materials. 

Partisans of the green/ecology move- 
ment are keenly aware of the great cycles 
of the biosphere — the nitrogen and water 
cycles, the photosynthesis/respiration 
cycle, the food chains. They understand 
that the biosphere reproduces itself, not 
as a static entity but as an immensely 
complex web of living and non-living 
processes. Yet curiously, they fail to extend 
the concept of reproduction to our "second 
nature," the social relations we inherit. 
The world that generations of workers 
(including scientists and engineers) have 
created by selling their time day after day 
to corporations and state bureaucrats is 
now terminally hostile. It is hostile not 
only to workers — who have always ex- 
perienced its "laws" through war, unem- 
ployment, poverty, boredom, and atten- 
dant miseries — but to life itself. 

The most powerful reproductive cycle 
now is the cycle of human social repro- 
duction which currently takes the form of 
the reproduction of global capital. But 
unlike the other great cycles, it is human 
beings who — collectively, not indivi- 
dually—control social reproduction. If 
we all stopped going to our jobs tomor- 
row, the reproduction of society, the 
chains of command and circulation would 
quickly snap. And already we would have 
begun to reproduce another life, another 

Clearly, it's not as simple as that. We 
would have to consciously renovate both 
natural and political biospheres. Seizing 
power to collectively rearrange human 
values almost happened two decades ago 
in France. Ten million people went on 
strike, occupied their workplaces, and 
began to live their lives, for a few weeks, 
in a new and intoxicating way. Perhaps 
for the first time since childhood, the 
majority of people in France were on their 
own time, living in the instinctive way 
that we know, deep down, to be our 
natural state as creatures on the earth. 
Unfortunately, they did not complete 
their break with the daily cycle by trans- 
forming the institutions they had tem- 
porarily vacated. But that road is still 
open. . . 

As usu£il, this issue presents a cornu- 
copia of perspectives on our theme. Lucius 
Cabins makes a return guest appearance 
analysis of the ambiguous nature of the 
environmental movement: Does it contain 
the seeds of a radical break with exper- 
tise and work as we know them, or is it 
more likely to politically legitimize capi- 


tal's attempted transition to a biologically 
sound form of production, leaving basic 
social relations intact? In this, and in other 
articles we explore ways the work en- 
vironment effects and is reflected in the 
larger world environment. 

Green Fuchsia's BAD ECOTUDE 
EVERYWHERE! tells of the author's 
odyssey from steel mill to ecology maga- 
zine. Fuchsia finds that in both places 
workers' perception of nature is warped 
by their daily workplace experience. Even 
in an environmentalist group, hierarchi- 
cal organization leads to ecologicaly de- 

Our second Tale of Environmental 
Med-o, deals with reforestation work in 
the denuded Northwestern U.S. This 
saga examines collective self-manage- 
ment as practiced by more than a thou- 
sand tree-planters. 

Watry looks at the Demo Derby that con- 
stitutes our modern cities. The car dic- 
tates how and where we live, and its 
eventual demise will present us with 
great changes (and opportunities). The 

car/city nexus is examined in the sur- 
rounding pages. NEW UTOPIA by 
Richard Singer, dwells in the urban 
jungle as well, investigating some of the 
forced living patterns found in the metro- 

In the more-or-less fiction department, 
we offer Primitivo Morales' LEARNING 
CURVE, a starkly imaginative meeting 
of genetic research and politics set in an 
all too believable future. As for our other 
entry, DICK'S DAY by Dorothy Hamill, 
all we can say is yup-yup. 

Our shorter pieces include an excerpt 
from an article by the now infamous 
Chaz Bufe, with a retort to those who 
would eliminate billions of people under 
the guise of environmentalism. In HOT 
tells how high-risk tap water gets riskier 
in Silicon Valley. PLANTS BURSTING 
WITH ENERGY by Mark Leger is a 
stroll down memory lane — both our his- 
torical memory and our genetic memory. 

We've been discussing possible future 
themes, and thinking is centered around 
ab/uses of leisure time — vacations, shop- 
ping, travel, drugs... you know, what 

you do when you're not working. Of 
course we are still interested in our usual 
fare (technology, work/office, perspec- 
tives on modern life, and ways of chang- 
ing how we love, live, and work) and in 
intelligent rebuttals or extensions of pre- 
vious material. We welcome your essays, 
fiction, poetry, letters and graphics. 
Please attach your name and address to 
everything submitted. 

We think we had a pretty good issue 
last time, but our mailbox was virtually 
empty. Maybe you couldn't find anything 
to say about most of it, but surely some 
of the pieces (e.g. the inter\'iew with Karya 
Komisaruk) advanced ideas not all of 
you agree with. This issue will (hope- 
fully) raise some hackles. But we are not 
interested in being called names or end- 
less recriminations. We are interested in 
sensible ideas. So write to us. We'd hate 
to find out that the most radical thing 
you do is read this magazine. 

41 Sutter Street #1829* 
San Francisco, CA 94104 

(see last page for subscription information) 


yVt^.i^-C^^d^.f^^ *^ — i€i£^A^*;^^-^ 

Office Ecology 


Our stomdchs are full. We who flow 
through this hell-bent artery called the 
best "standard of living" die the slow soul 
death of gluttons — one meal on top of the 
next. What me and you are starved of is 
birds and bees and that. This here is metal 
and concrete and it hums. My fluorescent 
hanyover is the hum. 

In this beehive we call home the big hum 
13 made up of fluorescent light, the strain 
of elevator cable, autos, rivets and stop 
signs After time myself. 

The clock advances and we keep the 
machines stocked with ink, snacks, news- 
papers and that. And the machines short 
change me, no questions asked. The image 
up yours, most-likely-to-succeed-and-did 
men leave the scene of the crime like blood 
cells in the freeway veins. Their job never 
ends Tall yellow necktie is a sufficient 

The hum of this beast will now subside 
for two days. My muscles relax as the hum 
changes frequency — and my brain, the only 
remaining original part on the '62 model 
human, i1 leels and sizzles in this hot grease 
cauldron I want out 

Let me back in On the way up I stood 
next to an office woman who smiled like 
mint auto freshener. Five inches in front 
the pink veiny skull of a shipping clerk 
stares me down Time to get off. 

Stepping out of the car onto bouncy 
brown carpet polished brass letters spell- 
ing white, white and white. And I know 
I'm in the bowels and brain of this shaft. 
But this sty houses humans — the clerks and 
jerks and couriers and that. Somehow not 
snapping we exchange the knowing silent 
grins on that morning ride up. "I will sur- 
vive if it takes coffee nicotine and mari- 
juana." Yes, it IS a nice day. 

D.D. — San Francisco, CA 

From Canoda With Love 

Cher P. Morales, 

I do not know what is the cause, but at 
the bank (3:00), it was suddenly very cheap 
to convert Canadian to American currency 
— 28%. Two weeks ago, it was 38.9%. At 
the post office (3:30), they tell me I could 
buy the Great Green Stuff at 24%. 4% in 
thirty minutes? Que pasa, amigo? Is your 
economy going buns up? Damn shame 
and bad bloody timing, I'd say. Our Prime 
Minister, Brian Mulhooley, recently sold 
Canada to Uncle Ron for nothing, nada, 
bupkes, not even a few glass beads and a 
trinket. At least your pilgrim fathers had 
to con Native Americans out of their birth- 
right. No one has to con a Canadian Be 
polite. Ask nicely. Threaten to pull out of 
their economy and they will do anything 
Even take the cruise. So it is bend-over 
time again for the Average Canadian Person 
regardless of race, sex or creed, but how 
poor you are will still determine how far 
over you have to bend. Free Trade. Free 
Lunch. Free Trip What a bucket of beaver- 
shit our political scene is. It is rumored 
that you Americans could care less about 
Canada until for various reasons, you sud- 
denly have to flee north. When Pat Robert 
son is elected Prez, for instance. Soon. 
Soon. It is coming. Another mass exodus. 
Vancouver is lovely any time of year I used 
to be an American, but during the Vietnam 
hostilities, I was forced to flee North. Then 
I was swallowed by this beached, frozen 
white whale of a country. Later, when I 
tried to come home, I discovered my entire 
family was dead, and there was no one left 
to sponsor me, a lost radical. That's the 
sad fucking truth for today, Feb. 15, 1988 
I shall enjoy reading your magazine. 

T. — Ontario, Canada 

Dndonbtedly! The only question is "When?" 

What? No prepaid envelope? No pay-later 
come-on? You guys are gonna fold! 

A Reader— Salem, OR 

The following letters were received 
in response to a fundraising appeal. 



Dear World 

In response to your fmancial emergency 
Here's ten bucks. Please send me back is 
sues 16 and 17. I hope everything works 
out This IS my favourite magazine 

Just an observation, but four of the five 
issues of Processed World 21 are still sit- 
ting unsold after about two months on the 
shelves of my local alternative bookstore 
This is unfortuante for both PW and the 
patrons of this bookstore, as this issue was 
probably the best publication of this parti- 
cular month, featuring superb graphics 
and the interview with Katya Komisaruk 
as particular highlights Considering the 
financial crisis, it may be worth considering 
printing the titles of the featured pieces 
of an issue on the cover in some sort of an 
"Inside" banner While this would spoil 
the great PW covers, it might be a neces 
sary sacrifice to motivate newsstand sales 
thereby enhancing the Solvency of the 

Keep up the great work. The Processed 
World style of subjective writing makes 
me feel less alone in this in.sane world. 

R] —Halifax, Nova Scotia 

Another VDT Vegetable 


I know my brain has lapsed, but I can t 
remember about my sub, so I'm renewing 
at the NEW rate, an extra two whole dol 
lars to inspire your creativity If I didn't 
have a mobile home to support, I'd consider 
a lifetime sub, does that mean I've sold 
out? Well, best of luck from yet another 
VDT vegetable 

P C - Sunnyvale, CA 
PS Is the revolution near yef 

You Can't Fold! 

Dear Hciriifed Friends, 

You can't told! I just subscribed' I re 
ceived If2l as requested and was greatly 
satisfied as it was an absolutely terrific 
and meaningful issue 1 shared it around 
the office (it's a small mom and -pop word 
processing operation that doesn't fall under 
the master and slave definition [perhaps 
because pop is black and mom is Irish], 
but we all have had experiences in the types 
of hells your writers have detailed) I've 
shared previous issues that I've managed 
to find and they've been loved, too But 
since PW was hard to find I finally wised 
up and subscribed . 

So, since I don't want you to fold and 
since I'm no fool, I'll send in $10 more dol 
lars to help out and extend my sub by 4 
issues Even if the worst happens, it will be 
money well spent for all the good reading 
you've given us 

Now, keep kicking! Your friend in New 

D.S. -Albuquerque, N M 

Page 4 


^"" i FIDO 

My Chilean companeros have a song by ttiis title, and it means "I Demand 
Punishment. "It is lor the military whores who rule their country. Being a 
Norte Americano my hatreds seem to be more personalized, if no less 

I had this briend, see. He was tunny and friendly and liked to have a good 
time. After his Berkeley days he went off to the University of Chicago and 
got his MBA, going to work for CitiCorpse in NYC. Both distance and poh 
tics divided us, at least to some extent, but his decency and charm counter 
balanced these. I can hear him laughing and saying "Look, Primo, give 
the man a chance. "A voice of tolerance. He bought a house in New Jersey 
and he and his parents moved in and they lived. But not happily ever after. 

Because Navroze Mody, you see, was not a White Amerikan. He was of 
Indian ancestry (the sub-continent, not the U.S.) and colored a wonderful 
bronze. He was also an . . alien. 

Nowadays, in the cities of America the poor compete with the machines 
for oxygen and gnaw at each other in their despair. There are vicious 
packs that attack anything unusual, often lace defines their hate. Hoboken 
has such subhumans, one assembly being known cutely as "Dot Busters, " 
thus reflecting both their penchant for hip slang and their taste for attack 
ing people from India. Said one doughty warrioi in ihis unsung war 'The 
Hindu people should live the way we live. They shouldn 7 have that smell 
that they have, dress up in cuitams, and walk around in tribes " A real 
credit to america. 

So a gang, perhaps a dozen in number, ranging in age fiom maybe 1 I 
to 1 7, attacked Navroze one October evening as he walked with a (white) 
friend. The friend was (basically) unhurt while Navroze well, the re 

ports mention severed eyeballs, crushed skull and feet, broken spine. He 
died after a few days. 

Ah, but he wasn't murdeied by whites, as was the case m Howard Beach 
He was murdered by people described as "Hispanic." Traditionally, ghetto 
residents chew on the newest immigiants, reflecting the prejudice they 
themselves encounter. Those peoples who have been so unlucky as to be 
traders and merchants (the overseas chinese, the jews, the mdians) are 
particularly despised by their neighbors, and those that value education 
are resented even more. 

Navroze was so successful here m this consumer paradise that he was 
brutally murdered by a gang of scum, and the police and most of the press 
were not particularly interested. (One police theory had it that Nav was 
killed because he was bald!) I guess I wouldn't be interested either, ex- 
cept that I knew him. And that's a shitty thing, that I have to know the 
victim to really feel grief, because Nav's death is not unusual, not uncom - 
mon in this great land of opportunity. So I don 't expect it of any of you— 
that you feel this strangling sorrow and loss. But you might think about the 
people you know, and picture them cold in the morgue, big toe tagged 
if there is one . . . 

And the pendejos that did this . . . one of them is actually on trial, as an 
adult, even! He— it— had better pray that the state of New Jersey is severe, 
because Navroze was not killed by prejudice, or ideas or poverty. He was 
brutally murdered by humans. Unlike complicated socio-economic con- 
cepts, people are very convenient targets for vengeance. Even the attor- 
neys I know think that these nazi punks should be . . . \isited." Not because 
they are hispanic or poor, but because they are not really human. Because 
all that wears a human face is alien to them 

But slaughtering them will not return Navioze And it would be the bit 
terest irony, for of all the people T know he was the sweetest, most decent 
For his life to be punctuated by biutal death this is not a good thing 
But it is not a good thing that rabid animals roam the street. ,Pido Castigo' 

Pnmitivo Morales 


Page 5 


different shades of green^ 

"[The crisis] . . . has released forces of flexibility on the part of 
the 'system' which amount to overhauling and restructuring the 
productive apparatus and the social organization of society . . . 
Eco- industrialism puts a price tag on what was once upon a time 
free of charge. Clean air, silence, and fertile soil are being com- 
mercialized, as they have to be especially produced by particular 
planning and technology. . . the rising eco- industrial complex is 
adding a new level to the expenses incurred by industrial growth: 
we all have to be more productive and to consume more in order 
to at least maintain a given standard of living. . . environmental 
concern is a foremost source of legitimation for rising new indus- 
tries and elites. " — "The Future Changes Its Color" by 
Wolfgang Sachs in Raise the Stakes #1 1 

Not a day goes by anymore without another environ- 
mental disaster appearing in the news. Even while 
I was working on this article, a Shell Oil refinery not 
far from San Francisco dumped several hundred thous- 
and gallons of oil into the S.F. Bay. Ironically, the site 
of this dumping was an ecologically restored wetland, 
an abatement project for the years of destruction wrought 
by Shell and other oil companies in the north bay marshes. 

This incident puts in stark relief the typical relation- 
ship between environmental restoration and its destruc- 
tion: token efforts are wiped out in just a few hours of 
careless "business as usual." 

In March 1988 the news broke that atmospheric ozone 
loss is already much worse than was projected. Dupont 
Corporation, producer of over half of US chlorofluoro- 
carbons (CFCs), followed the news with the announce- 
ment that it would phase out production of the "most 
ozone-damaging" CFCs over a ten-year period. 

This followed a U.N. -sponsored agreement last Sep- 
tember to freeze and then cut CFC production by one- 
third to one-half by 1998. (This treaty, called the Mon- 
treal Protocol, has only been ratified by the US and 
Mexico— it needs 11 signatories of the 24 agreeing 
countries to take effect.) Instead of stopping CFC pro- 
duction right now, the Montreal Protocol amounts to 
an international agreement to continue depleting ozone. 
The Protocol tacitly acknowledges that the investments 
in CFC production can only gradually be recycled into 
new areas— protecting business is, after all, a higher 
priority than protecting the biosphere. 

Behind this sordid arrangement, multinational chemi- 

cal companies are scrambling to find alternatives. Dupont 
has already spent $30 million on CFC replacements. 
Not surprisingly, one of several workable alternatives is 
a "green" product. A derivative of citrus rinds that works 
well as a solvent, it replaces CFCs in one of their prime 

Dupont's decision to eliminate "most" CFC production 
over ten years (still protecting their capital before the 
planet) was made primarily to avoid future liability. In 
spite of evidence of ozone depletion since the early seven- 
ties, Dupont has ignored the evidence until now: finally, 
a NASA panel had the necessary legitimacy and clarity 
to provide the basis for future charges of criminal negli- 
gence if Dupont failed to respond. Still, the chemical 
companies are going to take ten years to stop! 

The Dupont case, cited in a New York Times article as 
"responsible corporate citizenship," is an important 
example of what can be expected from existing businesses 
when they adorn their ongoing profitable activities with 
ecological green. Environmentalists pressuring business 
and government to respond to the environmental crisis 
by "restoring the earth" are in trouble if they don't see 
capitalism as an obstacle to their aspirations. 

In contrast to "deep ecology's" philosophical premise 
of "biocentrism," which argues against human primacy 
in favor of a quasi-democracy for all living things in the 
biosphere, a new sub-movement within the ecology 
camp, "Restoring the Earth" (RTF) is premised on 
human planning to create new ecological harmonies. 
While the biocentrists have a religious reverence for 
"natural" species and habitats, RTE values natural var- 
iation, but recognizes that "natural" doesn't really exist 
anymore. Restoring ecological niches requires human 
intervention and active management (stewardship). 

At a January '88 "Restoring the Earth" symposium 
held at UC Berkeley, two of the stated objectives were 

• Document the ways investments in environmental 
restoratif)n can stimulate economic development and 
provide new employment opportunities. 

• Contribute to a consensus on strategies for creating 
the educational, organizational, financial, and political 
structures necessary for building a major restoration 

Not many people would argue against restoring en- 

"The environmental movement is vacillating between . . . transforming 
science, expertise, and work itself. . . and legitimizing a new wave of 
accumulation based on a state-capitalist 'greening' of the economy's 

Page 6 


vironmentally devastated places. But 
when it comes to achieving a social con- 
sensus to halt hazardous production, the 
issue mutates to one of survival — the eco- 
nomic survival of the polluting business, 
and the jobs it provides. To appear real- 
istic , restorationists argue according to 
the twisted logic imposed by The Economy. 
Instead of a public discussion on the 
direct human and ecological benefits of 
various green city schemes, restoration 
projects for wetlands and forests, and so 
forth, restorationists are forced to discuss 
profits, wages, jobs, costs and benefits, 
and most significantly "growth." By seek- 
ing strategies that allow profits to accu- 
mulate and growth to continue being 
measured in the bizarre way it is, resto- 
rationists obscure the more daunting — 
but more essential — goal of eradicating 
the rape of the earth's underlying causes. 

A movement of social opposition is a 
prerequisite for transforming society, 
which is exactly what environmentalism 
represents at first glance. Clearly, there 
are revolutionary implications in halting 
hazardous production to protect and re- 
store the environment, and in advocating 
popular evaluation of the risks and bene- 
fits of different technologies and produc- 
tion methods. These goals imply a form 
of social planning which does not yet 
exist, and could not exist under current 

Purer eco-activists prefer to avoid the 
dirty realities implied by planning. By 
posing an opposition between things 
"natural" and "unnatural," and seeing 
the latter as the creation of humans, this 
type of "deep" ecologism implies that the 
problem is humans in general, not specific 
purposes decided by particular types of 
human organization, within a logical web 
also of human creation. So while they 
might advocate the rehabitation of grizzly 
bears in wilderness areas where they have 
been wiped out, they tend to define such 
advocacy as "speaking for Mother Earth" 
or ecological balance, rather than as a 
social plan for a specific piece of land. 
Whatever its justification, such a plan 
remains in the realm of human intention 
and control. 

Accepting human intervention and 
facing up to the responsibility of managing 
the environment is crucial: with a global 
population soaring towards 6 billion, 
human society cannot go on without 
some form of self-conscious relation to 
the biosphere. Even the bottom-line world 
of capitalism will have to adapt to the 
new imperative of biological sanity. This 
implies a new round of capitalist planning 
— after the last decade or so of deregu- 
lation and restructuring, which in turn 
followed four decades of Keynesian quasi- 

The last time society faced the kind of 

global crisis we face now (economically, 
if not ecologically) was in the 1930s. A 
common solution to that epoch's "anarchy 
of the marketplace" was massive state in- 
tervention in the economy. From Hitler 
to Stalin to Roosevelt to the Popular 
Front in France, each country found a 
way to stabilize the economy through 
guarantees backed up by the national 
government. The generally unspoken 
premise of most of these guarantees was 
preparation for war, in which the victors 
would dominate the world economy. 
Popular support was crucial to the state's 
ability to execute these changes. In fact, 
the popular energy channeled by these 
politicians contained more radical im- 
pulses that might have led to different 
outcomes were it less skillfully directed 
at the time. 

We are in a parallel situation today, 
where the self-serving rhetoric of politi- 
cians and large companies pitch ecological 
concern, regardless of their underlying 
contempt for environmental sanity. A 
case in point is the current Chevron Oil 
TV campaign about what they've done 
to ensure survivable habitats for foxes 
and birds of prey. After showing a dra- 
matic 20-second slice on how a device 
the company puts in place around its oil- 
fields or power-lines helps an animal to 
lead a normal life, Chevron rhetorically 
asks, "Do people go to all this trouble 
just for this little animal?" and answer 

Do people write 
advertisements about 
endangered species 
protection for multi- 
national oil companies, 
who are among the 
worst polluters on 
the planet? 


with their logo and the big words 'PEOPLE 
DO." Meanwhile, Chevron has been re- 
peatedly cited as the single largest pollu- 
ter of the S.F. Bay. 

Before too long we can expect elabo- 
rate marketing campaigns to "Buy Green," 
as biotechnology companies begin to trot 
out various "healthy" (for the biosphere) 
products. (Remember how easily the 
"natural foods revolution" was co-opted 
by granola manufacturers and super- 
markets?) More importantly, existing 
blocks of capital in chemicals, pharma- 
ceuticals, agribusiness, and energy are 
all pouring research and development 
funds into the "greening" of their own 
products and markets. At moments like 
these the system shows its resilience; it 
can turn a radical popular impulse to its 
own advantage. 

I can already hear a chorus of ecolo- 
gists, passionately concerned with the 
biosphere above all else, welcoming any 
developments in this direction as better 
than more of what we have already. 
Of course it would be — but isn't it more 
likely that biotech environmentalism will 
be in the same boat as the restorationists 
(in fact, I foresee a growing harmony 
of interests between the two), namely 
trying to avoid falling farther behind 
the eco-disasters waiting to happen? 

Capitalism is always changing. 
Change represents opportunity, new 
needs, new products, new ways to profit. 



Page 7 

One could even say that no force in world 
history has depended on change so much, 
or used it as effectively, as has the globali- 
zation of capitalist social relations. 
Through nearly two centuries of econo- 
mic and political crises, the day-to-day 
logic of buying and selling has consoli- 
dated itself so thoroughly that it is con- 
sidered hopelessly romantic and Utopian 
to propose a world not based on market 
rationality. Supposedly "socialist" coun- 
tries share with the rest of the "free" 
world similar enslaving social relations, 
and the twisted logic of wages, profits, 
and accumulation, even though capital 
there accumulates directly under state 

How will global capitalism mutate its 
way through the myriad late 20th century 
crises of debt, starvation, war, eco- 
collapse? How can it reform itself and 
rationalize production to serve the twin 
goals of social stability and continued 
growth in accumulation? 

It's hard to imagine how the existing 
social-economic system could "naturally" 
or peacefully evolve into a thoroughly 
"green-ified" post-industrialism. The 
most likely and unappealing way would 
be through depression. If enough existing 
US capital were written off after a crash, 
and wages were lowered sufficiently to 
make "green" production competitive on 
the world market, investment in biotech- 
nology would be massive. At that point 
a new biologically- sound infrastructure 
would not seem such a pipe-dream. 
Another possibility is for a new round of 
aggressive state intervention in the eco- 
nomy, which would pump billions into 
new forms of biotechnological production; 
but this, too, is unlikely in the absence 
of a dire economic emergency. 

More plausible is a scenario wherein 
restoration projects become sources of 
civic pride (much like the revitalized 
downtowns throughout the U.S.), but 
remain cosmetic. As such, they would 
be jobs programs foremost for the scien- 
tists and technicians specializing in re- 
storation. There are a number of talented 
and well-intentioned people occupying 
this niche already. 


The environmental movement has al- 
ways depended on the information and 
advice of "counter-experts," usually scien- 
tists with a social conscience. People in 
this role are in an odd position. Either 
they look for a relatively low-paying job 
with an "oppositional" organization, or 
else they work in corporate or academic 
slots, and provide expert services to eco- 
logical campaigns as concerned citizens. 
In either case they depend on their exper- 
tise to make a living, and hence have a 
hard time seeing the outside of the box 



they're in. Rarely do such experts find 
time or inclination to develop a thorough- 
going critique of the logic of social life 
that produces environmental abuse and 
then as a stop-gap, people with skills like 
theirs. Moreover, the enormity of the 
ecological abuse and the relative insig- 
nificance of the brakes on it make it dif- 
ficult to imagine life without eco-disasters. 

The increase in environmental aware- 
ness represents a growth industry and has 
been quite dependent on the expansion 
and wide availability of scientific know- 
ledge. Its dissemination depends on new 
technologies: sensoring, testing, and 
information processing. Environmental 
technicians, involved with hi-tech gadgetry 
and a culture of expertise, often present 
technological fixes as solutions, and fre- 
quently ignore the social side to environ- 
mental problems. 

Deep ecologists and greens put grass- 
roots democracy squarely on their agenda 
as a solution to the environmental crisis. 
But grassroots democracy implies more 
than just town meetings. Such a social 
transformation would involve a logical 
break with the social power of expertise, 
which while conceivable, is at best a 
complicated process. 

Unequal distribution of technical 
knowledge represents one of the thorniest 
obstacles for any radical change in social 
systems. People will never be equally 
capable, but there must be a way for all 
us non-experts to evaluate technological 
and scientific choices, given their social 
results. Advocating the stopping of science 
or technology does not address the prob- 
lem. Expertise is a form of social power. 
From craft guilds to industrial unions, 
workers have used their own expertise to 
control labor processes and thus to better 
their own economic conditions. It is pre- 
cisely this power which many new tech- 
nologies have been deployed to break. 
As Marx pointed out, the history of in- 
dustrial innovation since the end of the 
eighteenth century has been a history of 
capital's attempts to establish a more 
complete domination over the worker. 

But before technologies could erode 
workers' skills, workers largely lost their 
voice in consciously deciding "what's 
worth doing." By generally acceding to 
the logic of the wage contract (and, one 
might argue, because of the difficulty of 
democratic planning as an alternative 
mode of social organization), workers 
have lost all say over the purpose of their 



work. From military contracting to bank- 
ing to toothpaste production, workers 
don't decide what to do, they just go to 
work and get paid. To imagine a social 
movement concerned with the purposes 
of arcane scientific research seems far- 
fetched if people aren't even particularly 
concerned with the purpose of what they 
do themselves day in and day out. 

A movement restricted to calling for 
democratic participation in science fails 
to recognize the larger, more fundamen- 
tal social relation of which scientific ex- 
pertise is only a small, though powerful, 
branch. Wage labor and the logic of the 
marketplace impose a dualism on all hu- 
man endeavor between what is useful or 
pleasurable and what makes money. As 
long as an activity generates money, its 
social results are of little consequence. 

The environmental movement is vacil- 
lating now between two contradictory 
pulls: On one side are certain radical 
impulses implied by really restoring the 
earth (and transforming science, expertise 
and work itself). On the other side, mere 
reformism is insufficient. In this in- 
stance, it legitimates a new wave of ac- 
cumulation based on a state-capitalist 
"greening" of the economy's infrastruc- 
ture, and a vibrant biotechnology sector 
which could invade large areas of the 
economy, from agriculture to energy to 
pharmaceuticals with new, cheaper ways 
of producing. If we reject the notion that 
intervention in the ecosphere is inherently 
wrong, the problem becomes one of good 
management and planning. Accepting 
this basic premise means that another, 
much larger issue is ignored, namely all 
the work involved in implementing any 
social plan. The Restoring the Earth 
campaign fits in nicely with the con- 
tinuing social pressure to create more 
jobs, no matter what kind. 

Instead of stepping back to analyze 
how the wage-labor relation crucially 
disengages people from the consequences 
of their own work, eco-activists seem to 
prefer the role of capitalist planners, 
setting up new companies and govern- 
ment programs that will ostensibly pro- 
vide meaningful, well-paid work. Rather 
than freeing the subjective sensibilities 
and knowledge of average people, urging 
a new form of radical direct democracy 
in social a;2</ economic life, large parts of 
the still-evolving eco-program treat peo- 
ple as passive cogs to be fitted into the 
new Green Machine. The uncommitted 
citizen is confronted by the contending 
programs of incipient elites and existing 
elites. But as long as the logic of the 
market remains unchallenged, the busi- 
ness and propaganda organizations in 
power now will remain there, as will 
their methods of production/destruction. 



The ecology movement is at the fore- 
front of imagining and sketching out al- 
ternative urban and rural arrangements. 
At first sight, it is exciting to find con- 
crete visions of alternatives. One example 
is Richaird Register's Ecocity Berkeley, which 
is a primer on the greening of cities. He 
is quite explicit about the principles 
around which life should be organized, 
the shape urban landscape should take 
(denser, more three-dimensional — up 
rather than out — less sprawl, new transit 
systems, solar energy, and so on), and 
goes on to offer a 150-year conversion 
plan for Berkeley, California. He shares 
other eco-activists' abhorrence of con- 

sumerism, though he tempers his moral 
impulse with a certain pragmatism: 

"If cities are built for maximum prof it for the 
powerful and financially clever, or to confer 
maximum material wealth on all citizens 
equally, or to find some midpoint on the 
materialistic continuum between those extremes, 
the ecocity will wither at its inception. Nonethe- 
less, making a living and seeking personal ma- 
terial security are major motivations to alt of us 
who live in and help to build and run cities. So 
both kinds of reasons — those that provide a 
healthy, adventuresome, beautiful environment, 
and those that support the needs and desires of 
the individual, singly and collectively — must 
be accommodated. " [emphasis added] 
Much later, under "Notes on Strategy," 
he encourages ecocity activists to "appeal 
to people's interests, all kinds, both self- 
ish and generous," to forge political con- 

„ ^^"bcn Dyer .,„ ^"'- 

Hicrc t ,,*" '"I m n" '*"!'» 
'T'^&ibJ'V"' "'''mm,,, ■■ 

graphic by Pauline P. 

Page 9 

stituencies for green city programs. But 
his earlier principles have already pro- 
vided the crucial argument against most 
people's selfish interests and for perpe- 
tual austerity: 

"Given the climate and soils of an environment, 
the resident plants, and animals can extract only 
so much water, minerals, and energy in creating 
their bodies: the collective 'biomass.' Another 
limit to carrying capacity is the rate at which 
the total population can reprocess that biological 
material into usable biological resources through 
decomposition and soil building. " 
At first, this sounds like a pretty ir- 
refutable scientific statement. But "carry- 
ing capacity" is full of assumptions about 
human needs and capabilities, including 
prospects for more scientific and tech- 
nological breakthroughs. Used this way 
it's a moralistic argument, and one typi- 
cal of a large part of the green move- 
ment: we've had it too good; we've been 
living on borrowed time; we must give 
up a lot of what we have. 

Green moralism is actually a potent 
force among the grassroots of the move- 
ment, where "green-ism" takes on the 
qualities of a religion. A good example, 
not particularly extreme in the subculture, 
is San Francisco's Planet Drum Founda- 
tion founder, Peter Berg. Berg's article 
"Growing A Life-Place Politics" in Raise 
the Stakes #11 lays out his views on the 
bioregional social movement. His vision 
is strikingly similar to the anarcho- 
syndicalist system of bottom-up workers' 
assemblies, but he replaces "workers" with 
"bioregionalists," a new political subject 
organized more on the basis of where one 
lives rather than what one does. Berg's ar- 
gument, broadly stated, is that political 
power can devolve to new "watershed 
councils," and up through a "naturally- 
scaled" system of larger coordinating coun- 
cils, to encompass all of North America 
and perhaps even the globe! The key to 
this transformation is a "paradigm shift" 
in people's views toward natural processes, 
and a concomitant adoption of a new 
purpose to life: sustainability. 

Although sustainability is a helpful 
criterion, it is not a goal. As a means of 
defining whether our activities are worth- 
while, it could challenge The Economy. 
Bioregionalists are on to something im- 
portant with the concept of planning 
cities within the natural systems of the 
locale, but such a public works program 
is hardly worthy of being the primary pur- 
pose oi human existence. Such a purpose 
sounds suspiciously like the monk's com- 
mitment to live life to serve God, in this 
case God being the local bioregion. . . 
Moreover, this very idea of "natural pro- 
cesses" is a socially constructed concept; 
to reconstruct natural processes now re- 
quires work, which in turn requires a 
specific human design for the natural 





The first show of what promises to be a provocative and hilarious 
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18 MINUTES — VHS — $ 16.95 



STRIPPED BARE: A Look at Erotic 

Longtime Processed World readers will remember the themes 
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exploring the world of erotic entertainment. "The ima^e 
emerging from the film is dialectical in the truest sense. . . these 
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Bioregionalism traps itself in a narrow 
subculture by defining sustainability as 
the ^oa/ of life. Placing its hope in a mass 
"paradigm shift" (this could be read un- 
charitably as a "religious conversion") to 
transform people's activities, the move- 
ment restricts its participants to those 
who not only intellectually perceive the 
merits of the bioregional arguments, but 
who also proselytize for them with a 
passionate fervor. A casual glance at the 
literature of bioregionalism and deep 
ecology reveals a profoundly spiritual 
bent centered around Gaia the Mother, 
and various goddess ideologies. 

The merging of political movements 
with religious or spiritual conviction is 
common at this point in history. Green 
politics is no exception. Rather than de- 
pend solely on Christian or Islamic myths 
and icons, however, green spiritualism 
prefers pagan, animistic forms of mysti- 
cism. Hence, Planet Drum's symbol is 
Same Shaman, an incarnation from 
Nordic mythology, while eco-activists in 
myriad affinity groups practice rituals 
around solstices, adopt the trappings of 

Native American rituals, argue from 
"biocentric" philosophical premises that 
every living thing deserves to be treated 
with reverence, and so on. These are at 
best harmless pastimes, but in positions 
of social power might take on intolerant 
qualities, leading to a new social hier- 
archy with Ecology perched at the top 
instead of the Dollar (Ecocracy) . (Imagine 
being labeled non- or anti-Green spiri- 
tualist in a green-dominant society— not 
being Mormon in Utah comes to mind!) 


The idea of alternate living scenarios 
is very appealing. Certainly, we need to 
imagine how else to live, how to better 
resolve the classic dichotomy between city 
and country. But why circumscribe such 
visions with less-is-more ideology? If life 
were really transformed along eco-city 
lines, which could only be accomplished 
by a movement of workers bent on trans- 
forming their work, I think we would 
hve a much wealthier life than we do now. 
Eco-activists shouldn't be in such a rush 
to argue for the lower living standards 

Page 10 



that they all seem sure (and a little glad) 
will accompany their visions. Why not 
debate the nature of wealth and how to 
organize its acquisition in a society freed 
from the distorting imperatives of The 

One of the first steps toward a wealthy 
life would be the abolition of a great deal 
of the work done in this society. Elimi- 
nating banking, insurance, and similar 
"services" would free hundreds of thou- 
sands of human hours to contribute to a 
richer life texture, both physically and 
socially. Taking resources away from the 
military and insane industrial projects 
like automobiles would make them avail- 
able for people's actual needs and desires. 
Everyone would then be more likely to 
have all the things they want. The new 
constraints would be based on what we 
can coax safely from the environment, 
how much work is needed, and whether 
anyone is willing to do that work. Instead 
of a consumer culture, imagine an en- 
riching culture where the obsession with 
material goods diminishes in direct pro- 
portion to the lack of scarcity — where 
people are more concerned with living 
than with merely surviving. The con- 
straints imposed by concerns for "growth," 
"economic health," "business survival," 
or even "job creation," all militate against 
radical breaks with polluting forms of 
production. Those who are passionately 
concerned with the health of the planet 
must reject the underlying logic of The 
Economy as much as they reject its pro- 
ducts. A sustainable, enjoyable, healthy 
environment requires free human beings 
no less than non-polhiting ones. 

— by Lucius Cabins 


«.4/.VA' 7 HE SIAKES{n bi aiimjal maga/.nf lull ul in 
formation, debate, analysis on bioregionalism and 
green citv programs.) From Planet Drum Foun- 
dation. P.O. Box 31251, San Francisco, CA 94131 
SYNTHESIS (a newsletter and journal for social 
ecology, deep ecology, and bioregionalism) P.O. 
Box 1858, San Pedro, CA 90733 
CREEN PERSPECTIVES (the newsletter of Ver- 
mont Greens and soiial ecologists like Murray 
Bookthln.) P.O. Box 111, Burlington. VT 0.'J402 $1 

R&E Miles, POB 1916, San Pedro, CA 90733 
pansion of Europe, 900-1900 by Alfred W. Crosby. 
Cambridge University Press (New York: 1986) 
Anderson, Harcourt Bra( e Jovanovich (San 
Diego: 1987) 

THE GENE BUSINESS bv Edward Voxen, Harper 
& Row (New York: 1983) 
G.P. Putnam's* Sons (New York 1986) 
ECOCITY BERKELEY h\ Richard Register 
North Atlantic Books (Berkeley: 1987) 

States where fondling a groundfiog is 
punistiible by death 

States where peeing on a urine tester's 
shoes Is a felony 

I I States where children are required by 
law to be bom fully clothed. 

Stolen from issue *4 of SMURFS IN HELL, a genuinely strange mag. 

wanted for wholesale violations ofzerox machines' natural state. They 
are at 2210 North 9th St.. Boise. Idaho. 83702 Single copy $3. 2 = $5. 
3 = $7.4-t- =$2 each. * * * • 

Diversions Peril Mono Laice, Study Finds 

Rancho Seco valve spills radioactive water 
S -o Disastrous fire season feared 

_2 2 Private Research Report 0j| Spi|| 

PL .(g World Population Rising Threatens 


Faster Than Predicted 

C >- Acid Rain Could Mean End ' 

5 SS To Maple Syrup Industry Marshlancl 


nr Berkeley Wants Ban 

Unreported worldwide nuclear accidents 

o =3 Ei O 

,o Foam Containers 5 ^- q. € ^ Q- 
Q o >.Feeling the Heat X> q--^ §"8 .E 

1^ TS ffeiowarfare research in university laboratories \P Q CZ en 




^1 §6 billionth 

A human due « c o— .< >« ~ - ^ 
P^inlOyears |||g-| 8 S | | 

W fli Q Population increases TO 5^ 55* r\ ^ r=i Y* 

B ^ X outstrip predictions 



oc ^.EO) 

Swedish Seals Dying 

o ^h 
=5; o 

O) and siroh s Brewery we/e a'so o[^ Shuttle to caiTy lethal plutonium 



Page 1 1 

irof J 

lOflU to Mill I U! 1 1 

bJ^d ecotude everywhere 

It couldn't be just a nightmarr. The memory is too 
( lear. I used to work at that steel mill six days a week, 
and I can still see the view I had of it driving to work on 
the Buffalo Skyway. The mill stretched before me for 
live miles along Lake Erie. From the fuiriing block-long 
coke ovens at one end to the clanging manufacturing 
shops at the other, all life had been s( raped from the 
land and replaced by a network of furnaces, processing 
shops, railroads, and, of course, fences, lots of high 
fences. The plant seemed a mechanical nether world in 
which blackened behemoths chugged on within a fetid 

A bleak and fearsome sight, yes, but not entirely ugly. 
I he mill, and the three million tons of steel it cranked 
out per year, represented an awe-inspiring industrial 
might. Standing in contrast to the lake's limitless gray 
monotony by day or piercing the night sky with its red- 
dish glow, the steel mill had a certain redeeming beauty 
foi me as an expression of human power. 

With 18,000 people working there, living human 
power certainly was at the heart of this industrial colos- 
sus. Human labor was required to supervise the activi- 
ties of the mechanical beings down to the last detail — 
and supervising the humans down to the least detail 
were other humans in a hierarchical chain of command. 

The higher-ups spelled out their underlings' as- 
signments in a job description book that contained the 
work responsibilities of some 40,000 positions through- 
out the steel industry. All authority was moved up the 
supervisory line, and production personnel had only to 
worry about the particular machinery they operated. 
In this manner, workers were incorporated into the \<ry 
industrial processes that they were supposed to control. 
'I hey were confmed to serving as the machines' ultimate 
regulatory mechanisms. Management, too, took on a 
rote mechanical quality. Supervisors were isolated in 
little circles of competence and insulated from the mill's 
reality by a layer of paperwork. Each strived mainly to 
maintain the good appearances that protected his privi- 
leged situation. 

Kvery day, I witnessed the full extent of the environ- 
mental catastrophe that evolved in this deadening at- 
mosphere It began right on fhf sho[) tk)or with the 
frustration and stress that results from living out re- 
stricted lives in filthy, dangerous surroundings. The 
firsl day I worked at the mill, one of my shopmates was 

on the job for sixteen hours straight. He went hom< 
and died of a heart attack, leaving two young daughters. 
My long-time partner as a mechanic had been an as- 
piring artist in his youth. Now, alcoholism made his 
hands shake so much that he couldn't draw at all. Drugs 
and alcohol were a common way to make life easier at 
the mill ("If you don't smoke, you croak!"), but they also 
increased the danger as we tried to maneuver multi-ton 
pieces of steel through grease-caked machines two storic'^ 
high. The absence of responsibility for the work environ 
ment sometimes yielded vicious ironies. One depart 
ment I worked in, a worn-out automated marvel, was 
constantly filled with a suffocating mixture of red paini 
spray and welding fumes. The government had forced 
the company to stop venting the stuff outside, where it 
polluted the air! An old Italian mechanic fixing the 
machines there had a hole in his throat where doctors 
had removed his cancerous larynx. He couldn't speak, 
although he was pretty expressive with his hands. He 
insisted on working anyway, so the company took him 
back rather than put him on permanent disability. 

If the unseen higher management was indifferent to 
the internal environment of its mill, the external en- 
vironment counted for less than zero in its estimation. 
What didn't represent usable natural resources was just 
space for dumping waste products. The air in the sur- 
rounding community was so dirty, for example, that 
laundry hung out on a line would be soiled again by 
the time it was dry. The mill's sewers poured untold 
quantities of organic solvent and grime into a lake that 
was already near death from other pollutants. Who cared 
that that body was also the area's water supply? 

Farther afield, I once visited northern Minnesota's 
Mesabi Iron Range, where the mill's ore came from. 
There, around the open pit mines that pock-marked 
the region, I found the same blasted landscape as at the 
mill. Here too, no plants grew, and nothing moved 
except enormous machines. 

More generally, the mill was tied to environmental 
devastation throughout the world by the consumerist 
values encouraged in its workforce. Materialism was 
the glue that held the whole organization together. It 
kept us toiling away for our paychecks, with individual 
promotion, not collective revolt, our supposed avenue 
to freedom. The resulting urban sprawl and conspicuous 

Even environmental activists become trapped into 
manipulating nature for their bosses' greater glory. 

fage i2 


consuinption, the cars and shopping lualls 
and golt courses, adversely afiected more 
than just the district around the steel 
mill. They embodied the destruction 
wrought by thousands of other inchistncs 
lai beyond the mill employees' usual 

i hat was all so many years agf). Where 
once 18,000 struggled to keep the mill 
going, only 200 labor now. The mill may 
have been stilled, but my mind con- 
tinues to work on the memories left be- 
hind. I remain struck by how the mill's 
alienating hierarchy, and the materialistic 
culture that supported it, undermined 
both human and natural ecologies In a 
world composed of interdependent social 
and biological webs, distortions m uni 
area contort the entire sc heme. 

Now I work under more civilized con- 
ditions with an environmentalist organi- 
zation, whose magazine I help edit. Here, 
my steel mill experience is central to my 
attempt to heal rather than plunder. Yet 
when it came time to issue official bio- 
graphies for fundraising purposes, I no- 
ticed that my history as a steel worker 
was omitted. It was considered irrelevant, 
oi even besmirching. How could it be 
Mewed otherwise? Look at the way we 
work: We are divided mto individual 
offices, each concentrating on its own 
distinct issue — ozone, rainforests, etc. 
Group directors head up each office, 
and on top of them is the general director, 
with a chairman and board of directors 
above him. Plus, there is a separate ad- 
ministrative staff to co\er joint clerical 

tasks. Everyone has a pigeonhole; no 
one gets a crack at the integrative analy- 
sis needed to discover how humanity and 
nature can live together in peace. 

Perhaps my magazine could contribute 
the needed synthesis. Unfortunately it, 
too, is imprisoned by the dynamics of its 
stratified sponsor. The chief editor is a 
man who got his job through cronyism; 
he used his long-time friendship with the 
general director to convince the organi- 
zation that it had to put out a prestigious- 
looking magazine. This fellow actually is 
unsuited to be a chief editor, never having 
worked as one before. He has no idea 
how to coordinate the people working on 
the project and is mainly concerned with 


using the magazine as a means of pro- 
moting his own reputation as an intel 
lectual. His light, monotonous writing 
keeps popping up all over the publication 
as a result. Such pretense also extends 
to our overall choice of articles. We tend 
to concentrate on impressive-looking 
stories by or about major personalities 
that usually turn out to be mundane 
hand-me-downs. Other common items 
include specious reports presented as 

The male conceit at play here is symp 
tomatic of the sexist mentality central to 
office proceedings. I hadn't been working 
for more than twenty minutes on my 
first day when one of the more compliant 
women grumbled to me, "This place is 
really male dominated. The guys at the 
top, they decide everything." It is worse 
than she knew. Behind the female staffs 
backs, the male maii.igcment consistently 
favors those women who embody its vci 
sion of femininity — attractive, accom 
plished, and agreeable. Typically, when 
we were running a speech by an award- 
winning female filmmaker in the maga- 
zine, the chief editor couldn't mention 
her name, it seemed, without exclaiming, 
"What a beauty!. . She's ;i good friend 
of mine, too." 

Of course, with ecofeminisin a wideK 
discussed topic these days, it has beconu 
practically a cliche to connect male domi 
nation with human domination of nature 
and the ensuing environmental destruc 
tion. Accepting this idea is one thing, 
applying it quite another. In a situation 
in which everybody is compartmentalized 
the authorities are free to adapt feminist 
principles to their own uses. One male 
philosopher with whom I have dealt is 
renowned for expounding on the neces 
sity of smashing patriarchy in order Ui 
live in harmonN with natuii bat I noti. ■ 


Page 1 3 

that he uses his wife as his secretary. 
His clf)se confederate where I work is no- 
torious for the way he manipulates his 
all-female staff to keep them underpaid 
while he gets the credit for their work. 

The conception of the environment 
engendered by this traditional hierarchicid 
structure is an elitist, romanticized one 
that sets a natural, wild ecology apart 
from sordid human society. Utopian, 
pristine nature is something to be pro- 
tected by the enlightened few against the 
despoiling masses. The concept that eco- 
logical renaissance is attendant on human 
liberation is not on the agenda. The steel 
mill? Male-female relations? Forget it. 
These issues are outside the managerial 

In its extreme, elitist environmentalism 
regards humans as interlopers who should 
go back to stone-age lifestyles so as not 
to interfere with the natural world, as if 
it were ever possible for humans to have 
no influence. More frequently, an inter- 
species egalitarianism is advocated while 
an intraspecies one gives way to a desperate 
and coercive, if not racist, outlook on 
population control. When researching 
the AIDS epidemic in Africa, I was not 
at all surprised to hear jokes about "AIDS 
as population control" despite the fact 
that Africa is a diverse, but mostly sparsely 
populated land that is richly endowed 
with natural resources. 

Even more humanitarian environ- 
mental positions, which actually are well 
represented where I work, frequently 
betray antidemocratic managerial atti- 
tudes. Contending that the "resources 
necessary for generalizing Western in- 
dustrial consumption levels are simply 
unavailable," one of my coworkers argues 
for basing Third World economies on a 
neo-Maoist self-sufficient mix of small- 
scale farming and low-tech industry. 
Whatever this model's desirability, its 
impetus cannot come from technocrats 
who themselves live at Western consump- 
tion levels. The point is to extirpate 
materialist value systems, not establish a 
new ruling class. 

These elitist versions of environmen- 
talism are unlikely to inspire a mass 
movement, but they do provide environ- 
mental officialdom with a justification 
for its existence since a group of heroic 
leaders is deemed necessary to prevent 
catastrophe. They also provide office staff 
with a cause to devote itself to so that its 
members work on the cheap, in substan- 
dard working conditions. 

For $12,000 per year (or less for those 
designated as part-time or "outside con- 
tractors") and no benefits, we work cheek 
by jowl in dark, stuffy rooms for many 
more than 40 hours a week. Considering 

that we're supposed to be nature lovers, 
it's strange that there's nary a plant to be 
found. Indeed, our vacations are so 
meager that we have little contact with 
nature at all unless we manage to get 
funding for work-related trips. 

With all the crowding and noise, it is 
difficult to get anything done. Even find- 
ing a place to have private conversation 
is a chore. Recently, I made a ma.]Ov faux 
pas when I was overheard talking to my- 
self, complaining about what someone 
else had done. 

One wouldn't think that occupational 
hazards would be a problem, but they 
do occur. To cite one case, our ratty 
desktop copier, which was located in the 
narrow main hallway, suddenly started 
leaking noxious fumes every time it was 
in operation. I refused to use it, and af- 
ter a few weeks, another staffer learned 
from an occupational safety group that 

constitutes a major staff nuisance. Com- 
puters are the one thing we have in abun- 
dance because their fiashy aura makes 
them easily fundable. Describing these 
pc's as "cutting edge" is accurate in more 
ways than one. After working on them 
for hours at a stretch, I suffer from eye 
strain, headaches, and back pain. If I 
type a lot on the keyboard, my wrists 
feel like they are about to break off. 

Then there is the information glut I 
have to put up with. It comes by mail 
and modem from other environmentalists' 
word processors. The computers' enor- 
mous data shuffling capabilities have 
tended to proletarianize us, making our 
jobs more like those of file clerks than 
political activists. Their usefulness in 
mass mail campaigns has reduced our 
time for critical thinking still further by 
channeling our creativity into public re- 
lations. One of my Washington acquain- 

the fumes were xylene, a potent carcino- 
gen. (Ah yes, xylene. I remember xylene 
from the steel mill, where we kept a bin 
of it in our combined lunch and tool 
room to clean machine parts — and our 

Still nothing was done for months. The 
director, whose personal life was in an 
uproar, felt overwhelmed by all the de- 
cisions he had to make daily. He couldn't 
choose between getting the old copier 
overhauled or buying a new super-duper 
$8000 model. Finally, he chose the deluxe 
route. The place still stinks, though. With 
the fancy copier now doing the bulk jobs 
that we formerly sent out, and a new 
laserwriter going full blast next to it, the 
hallway continues to get its share of 
fumes. God help us when the machines 
get old! 

The new laserwriter is part of an ela- 
borate stock of computer equipment that 

tances rages, "We've become direct mail 
advertising agencies. I used to send out 
twenty million pieces of mail a year, 
but what did it have to do with fighting 
for the environment?" 

Computers aside, unquestioning sub- 
servience to the money-raising impera- 
tive subverts the whole environmentalist 
project. To my mind, the people in the 
office working on the environmental ef- 
fects of Third World military buildup 
constitute the most innovative group we 
have. I was once shocked, therefore, to 
hear them belittled by a member of the 
more marketable, richer dolphins and 
whales group as "a drag on the organi- 
zation. . .We're the important ones who 
keep things afloat by raising all the 
money ..." 

Maybe I shouldn't have been so 
shocked. After all, the officers of the or- 
ganization attained their positions in the 

Page 14 


hit-rarchy through their reputations as 
sutcesslul fundraisers. This oh-so-typical 
link between money and power finds its 
validation in the materialist ethos ex- 
pressed in the above put-down. And be- 
cause oi that ethos I'm editing a magazine 
lor readers who were largely attracted 
on a sentimental "save the whales" basis. 
I do not have the opportunity to garner 
the radical ecologist readership for whom 
1 would prefer to publish because such 
an effort would restrict our overall au- 

The man who wrote several times cas- 
tigating us for killing trees to put out our 
biased rag of a magazine may have been 
a ( lank, but he did have a point. He saw 
the relationship between workplace and 
nature in a way our organizational form 
does not allow, even though such recog- 
nition is the starting point for a broad 
ecological consciousness that connects 
the way we work with environmental 

Of course, there are many people in 
the organization who sense the connec- 
tion anyway. The small gang of upstarts 
I was part of did for a while attack the 
heart of the matter. Our temporary 
rebellion demanded workers' control in 
the form of a staff-elected board of direc- 
tors The point was precisely that a con- 
ventional management structure is in- 
compatible with environmentalism, but 
we never could formulate this idea in a 
clear manner. Since the required concep- 
tual tools were beyond our grasp, we 
substituted general democratic principles 
for a more specific critique. The lack oi 
official personnel policies became a major 
issue, and stafi committees to draw them 
up were formed 

To call our campaign a "revolt" is 
really an exaggeration. People who are 
cotnmitted to their work are not militant. 
Ihev do not strike or engage in sabotage. 
The liberal atmosphere in which we ope- 
rate does provide plenty of opportunity 
to talk, though. So that's what we did — 
we went to meeting after meeting to air 
our proposals. 

The response we received from the 
powers-that-be had nothing liberal about 
it. They handed out the same capitalist, 
Reaganite arguments that you could get 
at any company. First there was the ef- 
ficiency argument. Workers' democracy 
leads to endless committee meetings in 
which nothing ever gets decided, it was 
claimed. We need the skilled, assertive 
leadership that hierarchical management 
provides so that we can act vigorously 
in these times of environmental crisis. 
(Sure, buddy. When you gonna get the copier 
fixed, huh?) 

Then there were the usual financial 


arguments. Suddenly, the organization 
was running out of money and was just 
too poor to make any improvements 
now. (Actually, close examination of the 
figures revealed that we were in a tempo- 
rary cash flow crisis, which was more a 
reflection of the administrators' abilities 
than of any long-term poverty.) It was 
further alleged that democratic manage- 
ment specifically stood in the way of 
fundraising because donors would only 
give money to groups watched over by 
independent boards of directors. You can't 
beat the system 

Finally, there were the personal attacks. 
After a snide exchange with a board 
member, one of my colleagues suddenly 
announced to me, "I'm going to have to 
pull back, fill getting labeled as a trouble- 
maker." I was regarded as an immature 
whiner, but I knew that would happen 
from the steel mill. Bosses blandly give 
out their commands as part of the natural 
order of things. Objecting subordinates 
have to engage in aggressive, "nasty" 
behavior to have an impact. 

Sometimes one incident becomes em- 
blematic of a whole affair. For me, that 
moment came at the end of an especially 
acrimonious meeting, when the general 
director growled at one of the clerical 
people, "I know what's wrong with you. 
You don't really want to answer the 
phones, and you're bored by doing the 
books. The problem is you want to be an 
environmental activist. The next time, 
we'll get somebody who isn't as educated 
and just wants to do their job and go 
home." Talk about nasty! (But anyway, 
what's going to happen when there's an 
emergency, and the alienated employee 
is expected to work overtime in a frenzy 
— for the "cause") 

None of the dissidents were fired, but 
they did get worn out. Several left for 
greener pastures and were replaced by 

more accommodating individuals. The 
ripple of dissent gradually petered out. 

We did manage to win one staff rep- 
resentative on the board of directors, 
which changes nothing. We also won 
some improvements in working conditions 
and benefits. Eventually, management 
promises to provide health insurance 
and regularize the status of the underpaid 
"outside contractors." These economic 
measures also are accomplishable with- 
out altering the current power structure. 

That power structure is apparently a 
stable one. Its particular combination of 
hierarchy, self-serving ideology, and 
tactical resources for overcoming dissent 
mean that change is unlikely to come 
from within, at least for the foreseeable 

Working under deleterious conditions, 
iTianipulating people's perception of na- 
ture to enhance the prestige of the leader- 
ship above me, and with only limited 
economic change possible, am I really 
that far from the steel mill? The dif- 
ference is that formerly I worked with the 
actual physical resources nature provides 
whereas now I work with the ideas that 
it suggests. Doing the latter is more be- 
nign in the immediate sense. I do con- 
tribute to enhancing the widespread en- 
vironmental awareness existing in this 

My long-term contribution is still 
deadly, however. If the discussion needed 
to constructively integrate human society 
with the natural world is precluded by 
the hierarchy I prop up, then we en- 
vironmentalists are condemned to fight 
an endless series of defensive battles. As 
usual, we are losing so much because of 
the vanity of a few. 

by Green Fuchsia 


Page IS 

One of the hottest topics in "progiessive" 
circles these days is the Earth First! 
controversy. Prominent members of Earth 
First!, such as Dave Foreman, the or- 
ganization's founder and the editor of its 
newspaper, have recently undertaken 
polemics in favor of famine and AIDS. 

In the Australian magazine Simply 
Living, Foreman stated that, "the best 
thing would be to just let the people there 
[Ethiopia] starve. . ." He has made simi- 
lar statements to the local media in Tuc- 
son, where Earth First! (the organ of Earth 
First!) is published. 

In a similar vein, "Miss Ann Thropy^" 
a regular contributor to Earth First! , has 
argued that AIDS is a "good" thing, be- 
cause it will reduce population. In the 
May 1, 1987 issue of that paper, "Throp" 
stated: "... if the AIDS epidemic didn't 
exist, radical environmentalists would 
have to invent one [an epidemic]." In the 
Dec. 22, 1987 issue of Earth First!, she 
adds that ". . the AIDS epidemic, rather 
than being a scourge, is a welcome de- 
velopment in the inevitable reduction of 
human population." 

The connecting thread between the 
arguments in favor of AIDS and starva- 
tion is a crude Malthusianism. (The 
19th-century British parson Thomas 
Malthus argued in his Essay on the Prin- 
ciple of Population, that unlimited popu- 
lation growth was the primary danger to 
humanity; that population increased 
geometrically while food supply increased 
arithmetically.) A latter day disciple of 
the good parson, Daniel Conner, a "deep 
ecologist," self-aggrandizingly expressed 

his faith in Malthus' principle in the Dec. 
22, 1987 issue oi Earth First!: "Population 
pressure, they ["thoughtful environmen- 
talists"] claim, lies at the root of every 
environmental problem we face.'" 

Contrary to what Conner would have 
us believe, there is nothing "thoughtful" 
in the belief that population "lies at the 
root of every environmental problem." 
That idea is on a par with the simplistic 
belief that "technology" is the sole cause 
of environmental destruction. It ignores 
the key element in environmental de- 
struction: Making a profit. For example, 
coal-burning power plants are a primary 
cause of acid rain, yet utilities have in- 
variably put up resistance to installing 
scrubbers, which would greatly reduce 
the amount of pollutants emitted by their 
plants. The reason? Installing scrubbers 
would reduce their profits. Another exam- 
ple: Plastic beverage corftainers become 
non-recyclable trash, are a visual blight, 
take hundreds, if not thousands of vears 
to break down, and a particularly toxic 
type of plastic, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), 
is often used in their manufacture. (PVCs 
leach into beverages.) Why are they used? 
The answer is what you'd expect: It's 
cheaper and involves less hassle for bev- 
erage manufacturers and distributors to 
use plastic bottles rather than recyclable 
glass. Still another example is the toxic 
waste problem. One reads almost daily 
reports of companies dumping dangerous 
wastes into streams and rivers rather than 
going to the expense of treating and pro 
perly disposing of them. 

This tendency of the capitalist, profit- 
based system toward environmental de- 
struction exists regardless of the size of the 
population. In terms of the profit-motive 
tendency toward environmental destruc- 

tion, it would make no difference if the 
population of the United States was 24 
million rather than 244 million. At the 
lower population figure, the motivation 
for beverage manufacturers and distri- 
butors to use plastic bottles, for example, 
would be the same as it is now. A large 
population magnifies the damage rooted 
in the profit motive, but population size 
itself is not "at the root of every environmen- 
tal problem we face. " 

The conclusions the misanthropic "deep 
ecologists" draw from their faulty premises 
are breathtaking. They want us to return 
to our "natural role"' as hunter-gatherers, 
because according to their faulty reason- 
ing, "Earth simply cannot support five 
billion large mammals of the species 
'Homo sapiens. " This argument has been 
demolished elsewhere; the best work on 
the subject is Frances Moore Lappe's 
and Joseph Collins' Food First. For our 
purposes, suffice it to say that there is 
actually a huge surplus of food at present. 
According to Lappe, approximately 3600 
calories of grain alone is produced on a 
daily per capita basis. ^ That doesn't even 
take into account fruits, vegetables and 
grass-fed meat. This is enough food that, 
if the grain alone were equally distributed 
and all — or even two-thirds — of it con- 
sumed, most of us would be as fat as pigs. 
It should also be emphasized that pro- 
duction of this amount of food does not 
"necessarily" involve environmental de- 
gradation: Non-environmentally harm- 
ful, organic methods of agriculture can 
produce at least as much food as destruc- 
tive, chemically-based methods in the 
short run; and in the long run, increase 
the "value" of land and preserve high 
levels of production. 

In some of the European countries, 
notably Germany, population "decline" 
through lowering of the birth rate has 
already begun. In his article "Fertility in 
Transition," in the Spring 1986 issue of 

Page 16 


Focus (journal of the American Geograph- 
ical Society), James L. Newman traces 
the causes of the decline in fertility in the 
European countries. He concludes that 
there were three reasons for a decline in 
the birth rate. One was industrialization: 
"Out of it came the public health dis- 
coveries that reduced mortality, followed 
by a new lifestyle which no longer neces- 
sitated large families . . . Whereas on farms 
and in cottage industries children contri- 
buted their labor to the family enter- 
prise, in the city they became consumers. 
Only a few offspring could be afforded 
if the family was to maintain or. . .im- 
prove its standard of living." The second 
reason for the decline in fertility was birth 
control. It "was the answer to these new 
social and economic realities." 

The third element in lowering the birth 
rate is the relative emancipation of wo- 
men. In the developed countries, birth 
rates tend to be high only among econom- 
ically deprived groups with little hope 
and relatively little access to birth con- 
trol devices and information, and among 
patriarchal religious groups whose mem- 
bers believe that it is a woman's "duty" 
to have a large number of children. (A 
case in point is the Mormon Church; 
among active Mormons, nuclear families 
with "at least" four children are the norm.) 

If there were a more equal distribution 
of wealth and income, and if misogynis- 
tic, patriarchal religions declined, the 
birth rate in the developed countries 
would almost certainly be lower than it 
already is; and if there were relatively 
rapid development in the "underdeveloped" 
countries,'* accompanied by redistribu- 
tion of wealth and abandonment of miso- 
gynist religions and attitudes, fertility 
there would certainly decrease, probably 
quite rapidly. 

The primitivists at least have the 
honesty to accept some of the conclusions 
of their Malthusian arguments. They 
acknowledge that reversion to our "na- 
tural role" of hunter-gatherers will require 
a massive depopulation of the Earth. For 
Miss Ann Thropy, "Ecotopia would be a 
planet with about 50 million people who 
are hunting and gathering for subsistence. "^ 
Other primitivists have postulated a 
population of only five to ten million as 
the maximum, and in Alias of World Popu- 
lation History, Colin McEvedy and 
Richard Jones state that the prehistoric 
population of hunter-gatherers was pro- 
bably in the neighborhood of four million. 

Other "neo-primitivists" (it sounds 
classier with the prefix) have advocated 
an agrarian society using no technology 
beyond that of simple hand tools. Reach- 
ing a "no-tech" agricultural society would 
involve almost as many deaths as reach- 
ing a hunter-gatherer society. The last 
period in which a large majority of the 

population lived a pastoral existence, 
using for the most part nothing beyond 
hand tools, was the Middle Ages, when 
the world population was about 300 mil- 
lion. Let's assume a technological level 
of the year 1500 (perhaps acceptable to 
no- or low-tech advocates), and that due 
to improved agricultural techniques, 
enough food could be grown and dis- 
tributed to support five times the popu- 
lation that lived then. That would leave 
us with a population of 2 billion people 
(which would require a modest 60 percent 
reduction in population to achieve). 
Whether even this population figure 
could be maintained at that level of tech- 
nology is highly questionable. 

Historically, the ability to grow food 
has not been the limiting factor in popu- 
lation growth. The limiting factors have 
been disease and the related problem of 
infant mortality. Returning to the pre- 
industrial technological level of 500 years 
ago would not only eliminate the "means" 
of combatting disease but also (relatively) 
safe, effective means of birth control. 
The birth rate would soar, and many 
women would die at an early age, worn 
out from childbearing. But not to worry 
— population balance would be main- 
tained the way it was in the good old 
days: Most of the children would die from 
disease before adulthood; and if "enough" 
of them didn't die, population would 
increase to the point where famine would 
stabilize the population. 

Still another question never addressed 
by neo-primitive romantics is whether a 
majority of the population (let alone the 
entire population) would ever want to re- 
nounce the many benefits of technologi- 
cal civilization. I for one would not, 
whether we speak of music, food, medi- 
cine, or books. I doubt that my feelings 
are atypical. Returning to a low-tech or 
no-tech society would necessarily involve 
the use of coercion against large numbers 
of people, probably against a large ma- 
jority of the population. 

These are the implications which the 
primitivists and "neo-primitivists" have 
dodged until now, usually by insisting 
upon "natural" checks on population 
growth, such as the AIDS epidemic and 
famine, to achieve their desired hunter- 
gatherer society. They haven't dared ad- 
vocate what would really be required to 
achieve their vision: Wholesale coercion 
and mass murder. 

If any good is to come from this con- 
troversy it will be that it has provoked 
many people to take a closer look at the 
questions of technology and population 
growth, and their relation to the prevail- 
ing politico-economic systems. One hopes 
that environmentalists will go beyond 
the crude theories and intellectual pos- 
turing of "deep ecologists" and those who 

blindly hate "technology"— the questions 
of population and technology require a 
more sophisticated approach than primi- 

The only way in which population 
growth can be checked in a humane 
manner is through social justice— through 
abolition of (private and state) capitalism 
with its inherent tendencies toward en- 
vironmental degradation, through fairer 
distribution of resources, through the 
emancipation of women and the abandon- 
ment of patriarchal religions, and through 
the utilization of appropriate technolo- 
gies to provide cheap, easy access to birth 
control and to provide a comfortable 
level of material wealth for everyone.^ ^ 

by Chaz Bufe 


1 . How presumptuous! How does Throp know 
what our "natural role" is? She treats the exer- 
cise of human intelhgence, our power to shape our 
environment, which is a direct resuh of evolution, 
as if it were somehow "un"natural, as if using the 
attributes we've received from nature is somehow 

2. "The Politics of Food," TV documentary. 

3. Newman, of course, is not implying that "all" 
aspects of European industrialization were bene- 
ficial. He's merely noting that a rising standard 
of living was instrumental in lowering the birth 

4. The question of how development strategies in 
the Third World can and should differ from the 
models provided by the already developed capitalist 
and "communist" states is complex. But in general, 
one can say that adoption of the following measures 
would help developing societies to avoid the hideous 
environmental problems plaguing the industrialized 
nations: a) Abolition of the profit motive, with its 
inherent tendency toward environmental destruc- 
tion; b) Abolition of coercive authority, with its 
tendency toward bureaucratization and industrial 
monument building; c) Self- management of agri- 
culture and industry by those working in them. 
Workers generally live near to their workplaces, 
are likely to be aware of work-related environ- 
mental problems, and are very likely to do some- 
thing to remedy them when they are aware of 
problems — workers are smart enough not to foul 
their own nests. 

5. "Miss Ann Thropy," Earth First! Dec. 22, 1987. 

6. Of course I am not implying that "all" techno- 
logies are desirable— far from it. "Technology" is 
not a monolith. It is composed of a great number 
of separate technologies, all with different environ- 
mental and social effects. Some are beneficial, such 
as medical and sewage disposal technologies; some 
are neutral (they lend themselves to both socially 
useful and socially damaging uses), an example 
being radio communications technology, which can 
be used to dispatch ambulances or for political 
surveillance; and some technologies, such as nuclear 
technology, are inherently destructive. Even these 
classifications are gross simplifications, though, as 
even the most useful technology will have some 
negative effects; and even the worst technology 
might have some beneficial aspects. Blind rejection 
of "technology" is idiotic. 

7. For a closer look at the "deep ecology" ideology 
underlying the authoritarian, inhumane proposals 
advanced by Foreman, Abbey, et al, I would highly 
recommend Murray Bookchin's article, "Social 
Ecology Versus 'Deep Ecology'," in the Summer 
1987 issue of Green Perspectives, ($2 should cover it) 
from Green Perspectives, POB 111, Burlington, 
VT 05402. 


Page 1 7 

I wallow on my knees in thick mud, hoedag in hand 
slogging up a near vertical hillside, napalmed bare. . . 
rain whistling sidways so hard it bores through my her- 
metic, vulcanized head-to-toe rainsuit. I look like an 
astronaut traversing across an eerie, silent moon crater 
rhythmically bending over to scrape the ground every 
6-9 steps. . .I'm cruising over "gravy ground" — soil with 
no vegetation, no rocks, nothing but good clean dirt. I 
plunge the hoedag, much like swinging an axe to split 
wood, slitting the earth with its narrow, tapered blade. 
I reach into my 40 lb. hip bag, grab a 12-inch tall tree 
seedling and in one belly-over-torso- ripple-shoulder-arm- 
flip-of-the-wrist motion plant a baby tree. The flip of the 
wrist is the quintessential movement. It determines 
whether the roots settle straight down or form an L or J 
shape — sacrilege to the holy treeplanter. Like a human 
pack mule, I repeat this action hundreds of times, some- 
times over a thousand times a day. It is the most arduous 
physically demanding work I've ever done. 

That was 1978 when I was a migrant treeplanter; a 
job the Oregon State Employment Service lists as "the 
hardest physical work known to this office . . . one person 
in fifty succeeds the three week training period." Like 
thousands of other college grads that year, I was the 
product of a liberal education promising an exciting, 
'good' job as reward for four years of costly training. So 
what the hell was I doing planting trees and eating mud 
for a living? Well I'll tell ya, being a rowdy forest worker 
in a self-managed collective of modern gypsies traveling 
the beautiful hinterlands of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, 
Montana, Alaska, and northern California made career 
pursuits or 'regular' employment look awfully dull. 

In the late '70s a developed network of worker-owned 
reforestation businesses flourished in the Pacific North- 
west. There were roughly 30 independent 'crews' each 
containing 10-40 members: The Natural Wonders, the 
Culls, PF Flyers, the Marmots, Full Moon Rising, the 
Thumbs, and of course, the Mudsharks, to name a few. 
Like our crew names we were a very unconventional 

lot: refugees from New Jersey, recalcitrant hippies, 
radical workplace autonomists, and all manner of aca- 
demic fallout. Here was a real existing alternative, self- 
organized and apart from "the system." I could work 
outdoors and outside of a hierarchy, help regenerate the 
dwindling forests, and be in association with hundreds 
of others who shared my values. Not only were we doing 
something good for the natural environment; we were 
hip enough to organize our work and lives as free, equal 
individuals. At the time it felt like we could change it 
all: live and work together communally, avoid the wit- 
less, humiliating relations of working under bosses /or 
owners, and stop the abusive forestry practices plied by 
timber multinationals and the Forest Service. 

It took me two years to fully plumb the downside of 
what on the surface appeared so wholesome and radical. 
Serious contradictions emerged: from the widespread 
use of toxic herbicides to kill vegetation "competing" 
with the young trees to a corporate domination of the 
Forest Service that made trees more important than 
workers. But that all comes later. . . 

Talk to me. . .Please, Talk to me. . . 

In the midst of brutal, stoop labor we developed a 
very empowering culture of resistance. Unlike the rest 
of the industry, we made quite hospitable camps in the 
forest. Besides the desired contact with nature, we could 
live "on the cheap," always a problem for migrant 
workers. We also avoided what was an idiotic, standard 
practice for regular treeplanters; an agonizing 1-2 hour 
commute each way on treacherous logging roads from 
the nearest town where they lodged. Our camps were a 
truly motley cornucopia of tents, trailers, teepees, and 
yurts in a clearing next to the woods. The yurt — a Mon- 
golian invention easy to assemble, disassemble, and 
transport — was the mainstay of the camp. 

The way we organized the work proces, however, was 
what really set us apart from the dominant practices of 
regular contractors. For starters, everyone was both 

Page IB 


owner and worker. Instead of one macho 
foreman, we took turns as "crew leaders," 
sometimes daily, sometimes until a spe- 
cific worksite was completed. We all ft-eely 
debated the pros and cons of a particular 
work procedure, occasionally stopped 
work to make democratic crew decicions 
— which tended to drive Forest Service 
inspectors crazy. 

One of the most challenging, some- 
times beautiful, often times unwieldy 
aspects of treeplanting was visualizing 
and carrying out a maneuver to "cover a 
site." In a word, figuring out the most 
efficient planting movement for the 10-30 
person crew over a given area or time. 
It is actually a lot more complicated than 

start up without access to big money or 
having to mortgage your life away. Thus, 
they could be easily dropped if it became 
apparent they weren't worth continuing. 
Secondly, reforestation is inherently 
labor intensive and requires large num- 
bers of relatively unskilled workers. For 
workplace organizing this seemed fertile 
ground. Then too, restorative work is 
intrinsically worthwhile even after this 
ridiculous capitalist system is superceded. 
Finally, the fact that as migrant workers 
we were compelled to collectively organize 
our lives beyond the workplace provided 
a structural basis for avoiding both the 
narrowness of unions and the absurd 
separation of work, leisure time, culture. 

Unlike a legal contract the forest is not linear; it is very 

you might expect. Foremost, there is an 
inherent contradiction between objective 
contract specifications and the subjective 
terrain of forestlands. Most contracts 
called for the trees to be spaced 8 or 10 
feet apart unless conditions dictate other- 
wise. But the forest is not like a flat, 
cleared farmland to be planted in a uni- 
form grid. There are steep slopes, ridge- 
lines, rocks, ravines, creeks, and a whole 
slew of shifting indentations and pertur- 
bations. Unlike a legal contract the forest 
is not linear; it is very wiggily. To make 
planting more efficient we devised specific 
crew "maneuvers." The three most com- 
mon were line planting, floating, and 
bumping. There was also the Swarm 
which meant the entire crew descended 
upon a certain area of ground. Mostly 
it was used as a fun way to 'kick out' the 
final portion of a planting unit. 

Communication was the key of course. 
We talked a lot, sometimes probably too 
much, but you weren't disciplined for 
excessive discourse. A treeplanter with a 
regular contractor would be long gone 
for the verbose outbursts we generated. 
Even though it sometimes slowed down 
an individual's production, communica- 
ting a planting strategy and the contin- 
uous adaptations required by the chang- 
ing terrain definitely increased the crew's 
overall efficiency. 

This emphasis on communication in 
the work process (constantly conversing 
literally "down the line") attracted many 
self-management idealists to the refores- 
tation collectives. There were other fea- 
tures which also made the collectives a 
uniquely worthwhile enterprise for many. 
First, treeplanting businesses require lit- 
tle capital; you need only a few tools and 
vehicles. Such small companies could 

The (e)Motion Before The Floor . . . 

The internal democracy of the re- 
forestation collectives was most developed 
in a group called the "Hoedads" based 
in Eugene, Oregon. At its height it had 
300+ members distributed among 15 
autonomous crews. Each crew had their 
own decision-making process, usually 
some form of consensus with a majority 
rule back-up when consensus was blocked. 
While that functioned well for a 20-per- 
son crew, the 200-300 person General 
Meetings (GM's) were an entirely dif- 
ferent beast. Straight majority rule using 
parliamentary procedure was practiced. 
Despite a keen interest in more liber- 
tarian processes, I really don't know how 
these meetings could have been con- 
ducted otherwise. 

As it was, the quarterly GM's were 
wild 2-3 day affairs. I'll never forget 
when a motion was made to create an 
across-the-board, flat hourly wage for all 
co-op members. This contradicted the 
philosophy of autonomy in which each 
crew would "independently contract" a 
specific job, give Hoedads a standard 20% 
administrative rake-off, and then decide 

among themselves how to divide the in- 
come. The debate began something like 

"I move that the Co-op establish a 
single, hourly pay scale for all members 
at a $10/hr. base rate." 

A few people gasp, those sitting in 
chairs squirm and murmur, others mill- 
ing on the sides and in the back shuffle 
nervously, and about 50 people raise 
their hands to be placed on the speakers' 
list (I think, "Shit! Here goes another 
one of those endless discussion!") Debbie 
from the High Rollers crew is the first 

"I'm a member of High Rollers and 
we already pay by the share (equalized 
wages). . .1 like the idea of a standard 
pay scale; it makes it fairer when your 
crew gets allocated a lousy contract . . . 
But High Rollers have been together 
longer than most crews. We have worked 
long and hard to get our production up 
and we want to reap the benefits. The 
same wage for everyone wouldn't be fair. 
So I'm against the motion." 

Someone yells out from the back: "Of 
course the High Rollers are against the 
motion. The bidding committee always 
allocates them the sweetheart jobs!!!" 

There is a general uproar. The rotat- 
ing chair speaks through a microphone 
and speaker to overpower the shouting: 
"Quiet please! Quiet! Everyone will have 
a chance to speak. Now Dave, you know 
you can't just blurt out. Get on the 
speakers' list and youll get your turn. OK 
Let's See, Jason, you're next on the list." 

Jason is a tall, quiet, bearded man, 
basically a hippie pacifist. He talks elo- 
quently about the difference between a 
co-op as a business and as a new way to 
live. He concludes his three minute ac- 
count with: "I'm in favor of the motion 
because in the long run all the contracts 
even out. We all get our share of win- 
ners and losers. More important though, 
in the long run our health as a co-op 
isn't based on individuals being able to 
make more money but on our real com- 
munity with each other." 

Iljl i||liiiiii||lMiMi||liii>ii||in>iii||k 

M^am^i^^^ INKY-PINKY >^^«i#^^^ 

The need to talk a lot to do the work 
safely and quickly also cultivated mind 
games to transcend the intense physical 
tedium. One of my favorites was called 
inky -pinky. You give clues for a two 
word answer in which each contains the 
same niunber of syllables and rhymes. 
If the answer pair contains only one syl- 
lable each the clue is called an ink-pink 
— with tfiree syllables, an ink-i-ty/pink-i- 

ty, etc. For instance someone at the top 
of the slope might yell out, "What is an 
inkity-pinkity for an evil preacher?" The 
answer: a sinister minister. While many 
answers were this facile, others were 
truly quixotic or sublime. How about 
an inkity-pinkity for a caustic wino? If 
you can't grock it, the answer can be 
found in the graphic on the next page. 


Page 19 

Jane, a hard-core "Amazon planter" 
speaks next: "All right, let's cut through 
the shit!!! It's simple. If high production 
crews and workers don't make more 
money they will leave the co-op (perhaps 
the greatest success of the Hoedads was 
the spin-off of about 30 smaller co-ops, 
many with start-up money from the 
Hoedads). If this happens the whole co- 
op will suffer ..." 

On and on it went for hours. Even- 
tually the motion was defeated, although 
several years later, as the industry slumped 
and the co-op contracted, a similar ver- 
sion was passed. 

Woodswoman Spare That Tree 

It was exciting to challenge the estab- 
lished canons of forest practices. Women 
treeplanters were perhaps the most daunt- 
ing feature we introduced to a very back- 
woods, exclusively male province for the 
last few centuries. One of my fondest 
memories is how three women totally 
overwhelmed an all-too-typical Forest 
Service inspector pregnant with petty 
rules. Some inspectors were cool, found 
our alternative bent refreshing, and 
helped us make tons of money during a 
contract. Most were a pain in the ass. 
An inspector could make or break your 
contract depending on how strictly they 
enforced contract specifications. A tough 
inspector was like a hard-ass cop, if s/he 
had "an attitude," no matter how per- 
fectly you did the work, they could make 
sure you got the shaft. 

Regular contractors usually had one 
foreman who dealt with the inspector. 
We had the advantage of ganging up on 
the poor sod with two or three rotating 
'fore-persons.' It didn't always work but 
it sure did this day. How? Well, Han- 
nah, Ginger, and Cathy did what they 
normally do during a hot day "on the 
slope;" they planted with their shirts off. 
When they saw the inspector was giving 
us a hard time they marched up to con- 
front him on it. Now here was a guy who 
liked ironing his underwear. A real prick 
who desperately needed to be in command: 




S4 him 

% his 


It was hilarious. Imagine three, strap- 
ping, bare-breasted women, all sweaty, 
dappled with earth, and dripping eros 
striding up to this inspector/imposter. . . 
he turns all red and shy and hot and con- 
fused. They didn't have to say a word: 
six healthy breasts stare down a repressed 
stiff. He lasted about 30 seconds, turned, 
and bolted for his life. Totally forgot he 
was supposed to be an asshole, even for- 
got his underwear and iron in getting the 
hell out of Dodge before it was too late. 

The attempt to develop gender bal- 
anced crews, while successful in some 
groups, never shook up the industry to the 
degree we hoped it would. It did, how- 
ever, make night life infinitely more in- 
teresting if not ribald. I mean we're talk- 
ing young (almost exclusively 20-30 year 
old), high-powered, very fit bodies isolated 
in some remote forest with not a whole 
helluva lot to do after dark. Well. . .you 
get the idea. It sure was a lot of fun but 
the ever-changing love liaisons and result- 
ing power dynamics also had a nasty 
habit of screwing up our egalitarian 
group decision-making processes. 

While we never created the broad sys- 
temic changes dreamed about, we did 
realize many small, localized changes. 
One of the funest and funniest was the 
invasion of small town, "cowboy" taverns. 
It is difficult to fathom how dramatic 
our impact could be in these sleepy towns. 
Try to imagine 20-30 scruffy, wild-eyed 
men and women barging into a back- 
woods bar like gangbusters. Often there 
would be an audible silence. Who or 
exacdy what are these creatures? Fre- 
quently, some or all of us were kicked 
out before the night was over. Although 
most of us were heterosexual (perhaps 

20% lesbian and 5% gay men) often we 
would freak out the locals with same-sex 
dancing. Despite the rough and tumble, 
"macho" character of the work and sub- 
culture, there was a lot of chummy, very 
direct physical affectation. The tiny towns 
we visited saw us like a circus. Few towns- 
folk had ever seen such a weird group or 
heard the strange, radical, and esoteric 
conversations we might spill. 

2, 4-D Is Such A Beautiful Thing . . . 

We often talked to locals and other 
treeplanters about a very curious prob- 
lem. Perhaps for many it seemed anti- 
America. "Did ya know they're droppin' 
tons of poison up in them there hills. 
We're talking known cancer causing 
chemicals. Yes, it's likely they're polluting 
your drinking water. . .Yes, these chemi- 
cals cause cancer, miscarriages, death. . . 
Yes, your friendly Forest Service or tim- 
ber company is spraying this shit like a 
firehose on a burning house." 

Most herbicides were applied through 
aerial spraying from helicopters— just 
like in Vietnam. As I became more savvy 
to what was coming down, I learned the 
widespread use of these poisons sprang 
from the huge inventories leftover from 
the Vietnam war. Public-minded manu- 
facturers like Dow Chemical were leaders 
in the efforts to pass reforestation legis- 
lation with teeth. The most common 
applications were 2, 4-D and 2,4,5-T, both 

Page 20 


active carcinogens in Agent Orange. Be- 
sides poisoning the worksite, aerial spray- 
ing also made 'drift' possible as mountain 
breezes carried the noxious material to 
surrounding environs including water- 

Thiram-coated tree seedlings were 
another hazard. This pesticide was sup- 
posed to repel animals such as deer that 
love eating tender new trees. Too bad it 
made lowly treeplanters sick. At least 
precious trees were protected. By the 
time I became a planter Thiram was no 
longer being used, mostly because of 
concerted agitation by collectives in the 
previous five years. 

Another sordid reality of the back-to- 
nature reforestation biz was the trans- 
formation of forests into mono-species 
plantations. When gushing treeplanters 
told me they loved working in a forestry 
collective because "you didn't have to 
work for the man" I always retorted, 
"Yeah, but you're still workin' on the 
plantation." What had often been a di- 
verse mix of coniferous and deciduous 
trees was usually re-planted in a grid of 
Douglas Fir or Pine clones. They were 
the most profitable since they grew 
quickly and were more lucrative as forest 

The overall paradign that held all this 
together was what I called the "myth of 
sustained yield." Corporate interests suc- 
cessfully instilled an ideology inside the 
Forest Service that through their manage- 
ment forest lands could be harvested and 
reproduced in perpetuity — a sustainable, 
ongoing practice through the administra- 
tion of scientific management. It was a 
nice theory. The problem was that the 
logging industry knew only one way: cut. 

crew who spruced up an otherwise stark 
scalping of a fragile, essential natural 
habitat. Most of our planting sites were 
20-100 acres that had been clear-cut; in 
other words, every single tree had been 
mowed down. 

Once all logs were removed from the 
clearcut, piles of slash were burned, and 
the ground was chemically dosed and 
torched. Since the application of hazar- 
dous toxics occured months before the 
planters arrived most contractors care- 
fully kept it a secret from their workers. 
Collective crew were more fortunate; 
since they knew the risks they could 
choose not to work on such sites. Yet 
many crews did anyway, especially when 
the market was tight. 

microcosm, it is useful to look at a more 
widespread example such as the energy 
conservation programs of the '70s and 
early '80's. There is no question that 
these retrofitting and weatherizing pro- 
grams were a prudent public policy. In- 
deed, the U.S. has undergone a signifi- 
cant drop in energy consumption be- 
cause of them and this is a healthy change. 
Little attention, however, was given to 
how or who carried out this work. Mosdy, 
inner-city youth (primarily 18-25 year 
old Blacks and Hispanics) were paid 
minimum wage to expose themselves to 
serious health hazards. Installing fiber- 
glas insulation in ceilings 40 hours a week 
is something no one (except a robot) 
should ever do. Removing and being ex- 
posed to old asbestos particles is even 
worse. Such workplace hazards were sub- 

No one ever mentioned the qualitatitive character of the jobs or that full employment 
might be an obsolete, undesirable notion to base any social policy on. 

cut, and cut. 11 the regeneration process 
couldn't keep up then that was a technical 
problem. Genetic engineering, or some 
damn technique, could be developed to 
make those stupid trees catch up with the 
logging program. 

A Double-Edged Dagger 

Despite the integrity of our internal 
democracy we were still pitted against a 
monstrous economic combine that just 
wouldn't quit. The reforestation business 
is the humane arm of a sprawling forest 
products industry which has nearly deva- 
stated our nation's woodlands. We were 
the good looking, visible front designed 
to make the slaughter okay; the mop-up 

Despite our Herculean efforts, we were 
still victims of a global forestry machine 
over which we had no control. This is 
the decisive problem of self-management; 
as with all enterprises under capitalism, 
worker/owners tend to manage their own 
exploitation. The overall nature of the 
work (or even if it should be done at all) 
was completely swamped by the day-to- 
day bullshit of being a business. This 
takes on even more insidious mutations 
when you self-manage "good works" like 
restoring the earth, providing health care, 
or conserving energy. Here capitalist 
logic has bred an ideology that readily 
sacrifices the lowly worker before the al- 
tar of public good. 

Before examining the treeplanting 

sumed in a national program to become 
energy independent, to save precious 
natural resources, and provide GOOD 
JOBS for the chronically unemployed. 
What a perfect marriage: saving the 
planet (or the nation, for the less liberal) 
and creating full employment all at the 
same time. No one ever mentioned the 
qualitative character of the jobs or that 
full employment might be an obsolete, 
undesirable notion to base any social 
policy on. You can be sure, however, 
this twisted ideology will be increasingly 
proselytized as the west's economy and/or 
ecology self-destruct. 

Within reforestation, rarely was the 
treeplanting drone valued equally (much 
less above) the cherished tree seedling. 


Page 2 1 

Most Forest Service inspectors rigidly 
adhered to a program intent on maxi- 
mizing tree, as opposed to the planter's, life. 
For instance, the ideal weather condi- 
tions for planting trees was determined 
to be 38 degrees and raining — hardly 
ideal for humans. But to successfully 
compete in the market, we had to work 
8-10 hours a day in the most wretched, 
wintry conditions. 

Science was the alchemy inspectors 
looked to when confronted with the ab- 
surdity, if not downright cruelty, of many 
forestry practices. Scientific studies had 
proven herbicides increased tree growth. 

This business about miscarriages and 
worker disabilities, well, more research 
was needed. There was not yet any con- 
clusive long-term studies. 

Forest Service paranoia about tree 
survival reached preposterous heights. 
At higher elevations where the snowpack 
might not melt until April or May. The 
idea was to get the trees into the ground 
as soon as possible after the snow melted 
to insure the ground was still moist. True, 
occasionally a heat spell could bake the 
soil to a crisp but this slight possibility 
by no means justified the incredible 
workload oppression we endured. Con- 

O n) 


THe HTTomey Geneam- 


I uojjBppnp uoiiBupn||EL| V AiqSnEU Ajjou>l V 

from BIRTH OF A COLLECTIVE by Hal Hartzell. Jr. 

Page 22 

tracts specified a limited number of days 
for completion and F.S. inspectors would 
crack the whip to meet this totally arbi- 
trary schedule ... or else you didn't get 

One of the more bizarre instances of 
this senseless productivism occurred 
when the Mt. St. Helens volcano blew 
up. We were working about 40 miles 
northeast as the crow flies — or in this 
case as the ash falls. What a terrifying 
experience. We had no idea what exactly 
happened. Since I was the crew coordi- 
nator that day I noticed an incredibly 
dark cloud to the west and told every- 
one: "Better get your raingear, there is 
one helluva rain storm moving in and 
fast!" Stiff gusts started peppering the 
exposed hillside and — how strange! In- 
stead of raindrops, large, black snow- 
flakes floated down. Even stranger was 
how dark, truly pitch black it suddenly 
became. It was noon and darker than the 
darkest night; you couldn't see 2 feet in 
front of you. As the ash piled up 2-3 
inches deep, it became impossible to 
move without kicking up the bone dry, 
nearly weightless, irritating dust. These 
re-airborne particulates obscurbed the 
already microscopic visibility so much 
that headlights from our vehicles failed 
to illuminate the road. 

Yet, despite this very tense, uncertain, 
and potentially catastrophic situation, 
Forest Service honchos still wanted us 
to keep working. After all, the trees were 
ready, waiting a few days to evaluate the 
circumstances might endanger their 
health. We refused (workers with a regu- 
lar contractor wouldn't have had that 
choice) and later I learned some of the 
ash contained silica particles that cause 
silicosis, a fatal lung disease. It took us a 
year of legal proceedings to get paid since 
we stopped work without an F.S. sanc- 
tioned "stop work order." 

The whole St. Helens Fiasco, as we 
called it, also unraveled how easy col- 
lective democracy can elude groups. Pre- 
viously, I'd never had problems with our 
directly democratic, self-managed pro- 
cess. But this disaster created a very dif- 
ferent situation. Never have I seen so 
many good-intentioned, principled peo- 
ple act so stupidly. People were yelling 
and crying, running madly in all direc- 
tions, jumping into trucks and crashing 
them (since they couldn't see), withdraw- 
ing to their tents to await the inevitable. 
A half hour of pure chaos followed by a 
total breakdown of collective thinking 
and action. You have to realize it was 
pretty damn scary. We had no idea how 
long the ash would keep falling, if it 
would ever ge\. light again, if that noxious 
dust would keep swirling up and choke 
off our oxygen supply. A sick, heavy 


sensation that this was the preview of the 
nuclear holocaust hung like a moldy 
blanket over everyone. With it came con- 
flicting, very emotional opinions about 
what exactly was happening, what should 
be done, and how to do it. 

Outside of such extreme circumstances, 
our collectivity was an important source 
of strength. In addition to empowering 
our personal and political life, the posi- 
tive side of self-management is that we 
were much more informed and able to 
fight stupid, unhealthy working condi- 
tions like planting in St. Helens ash. 
Perhaps the broadest expression of this 
was our opposition to the chemical spray- 
ing of tree seedlings and forestlands. 
It took several years of concerted research 
and activism to stop this insane practice. 
It never would have happened without 
"those damned trecplanting collectives" 

This is the decisive problem of self- management; as with all enterprises under capitalism; 
worker/owners tend to manage their own exploitation. 

as one corporate chemical lobbyist put it. 
Eventually we helped develop two impor- 
tant organizations through this battle: 
the National Coalition Against Pesticides 
and the Northwest Forest Workers Asso- 

A Bit Of Nostalgia. . . 

Self-managed collectives certainly have 
their problems especially under the eco- 
nomic and psychological pressures of 
global capitalism. I suspect some dyna- 
mics like sexual jealousies or uneven 
power relations based on differences in 
personal animation, intellectual, and so- 
cial capacities would remain under even 
the most libertarian culture. But the over- 
arching problem we faced was the crazy 
financial competition that pitted us 
against other enterprises and ourselves 
or perish. This was exacerbated in the 
'80s with the decline of the forest industry 
in general and reforestation in particu- 
lar. The Reagan administration's de- 
regulation mania also had a wicked im- 
pact on reforestation. Since it was a 
money loser — even though miniscule in 
comparison to the revenues acquired 
from logging — it was one of the first to 
get the axe in the Forest Service's budget 
slashing. The industry's decline was the 
kiss of death for the treeplanting collec- 
tives, as it was for all forestry businesses 
and workers in the Pacific Northwest. 

I can't say I miss slogging like a mud- 
shark up a steep slope on a frigid Jan- 
uary day. but there are two things I really 
miss. Most important was our support 
for one another and the community of 

resistance to the dominant culture. The 
sharing of life and love including our 
alienated labor was so different from my 
present life in San Francisco. There are 
certainly more diverse, interesting people 
and activities here. But with modern 
urbanism comes a specialization I abhor. 
Most of my income-producing work is 
as an electrician by myself or with one 
or two others. The money is great, the 
work is easy to organize so I'm freed to 
do a lot of other more interesting activi- 
ties. The problem is that my job takes 
me away from any group engagement in 
how to organize and change work. Instead 
of any widespread feeling that groups of 
people could collectively change their 
plight, the pervasive attitude even among 
many of my libertarian friends locally, 
is that the "work problem" requires an 
individual solution. If you are in a bad 
job then get your act together and place 
yourself in a better situation, the main- 
stay of careerist ideology. 

Similarly, what to do with my wages 
is totally my decision. This is certainly 
easier and guarantees I use it the way I 
want. The problem is that it isolates you 
from what surely must happen if we are 
to ever change the capitalist Leviathan. 
Even in a Utopia where money was eli- 
minated, like Peter Berg's Bioregional 
Councils (see "Dollars & Ecology" in this 
issue), worker or community groups, or 
even eco-councils, still have to decide how 
resources will be developed, distributed, 
and used. In the more probable future 
in which money remains, I certainly 
hope we can develop new forms of finan- 
cial collectivity beyond the nuclear family 

or state administration. 

The other thing I yearn for is working 
outdoors on a daily basis. I'm very anti- 
workerist — believe 90% of modern work 
could be eliminated and we would be 
better off for it — but I really loved the 
intense physical nature of treeplanting. 
This physicality was not just located in 
the body but in the immediate surround- 
ings as well. The work and the fitness 
generated by it enhanced my sensitivities 
for the simple pleasures of breathing fresh 
mountain air or appreciating the delicate, 
intoxicating forest smells. I could never 
base my life;M.j/ on that. Collective tree- 
planting was attractive precisely because 
such a simple nature-based life was inte- 
grated with more complex intellectual, 
political, and artistic concerns. 

One of the cruelest aspects of this 
modern processed world is our separa- 
tion from that kind of experience. Except 
for the rich, we face an untenable and 
schizophrenic choice. We can either ac- 
cept ecological impoverishment in the 
urban fray, where all the cultural and 
political action is, or escape to the coun- 
tryside and become isolated in whole- 
some living. The need to change that so- 
cial double-bind is perhaps the greatest 
lesson I learned from treeplanting. De- 
veloping a new culture that coalesces 
"naturality" and human creation is essen- 
tial. It begins with an ecology of mind, 
body politic, and earth. 


Page 23 


Shhh! At many companies, 
phone operators' headsets trans- 
mit conversations with customers 
and with co-workers.' 

According to a 1986 Data Entry 
Management Association study, 
66% of data-entry operators 
suffered neck and shoulder pain; 
47% had burning eyes; 44% ex- 
perienced blurred vision 

A just-released 1981-82 Kaiser 
Permanente study found "a sig- 
nificantly elevated risk of mis- 
carriage for working women 
who reported using VDTs for 
more than 20 hours per week 
during the first trimester of preg- 
nancy compared to other work- 
ing women who reported not 
using VDTs."' In a separate, 
four-year study of 871 computer 
operators, 45% reported preg- 
nancies ending in miscarriage, 
stillbirth, early infant death, 
premature delivery or major birth 
defects. Recent European studies 
suggest that computers' low 
level radiation, which has been 
linked to genetic damage in chick 
embryos, is a likely cause. 

An EPA study found indoor air 
carrying pollutants at levels as 
much as 1,000 times higher than 
out of doors. There are no 
federal standards for office air.' 

Public employees beware: a new 
General Services Administration 
space-consolidation plan em- 
braces the modular office cubicle 
as a means to shrink employee 
office space "significantly." At 
one government branch, office 
workers watched their space 
shrink from 135 square feet each 
to 40 — well below the 48 square 
feet federal guidelines specify for 
a 200-pound laboratory pig 

Stress-related occupational- 
disease claims have tripled since 
1980; in California they have 
increased fivefold.' ^ 

From Profit Technology comes 
Breakthrough! software that 
managers can configure to flash 
pre-programmed displays on an 
employee's screen for periods as 
brief as Viooth of a second. 

Mind Communication Inc. of 
Grand Rapids, Michigan, pur- 
veyor of subliminal cassette 
tapes, offers "Q-System" to 
embed messages "behind" the 
office background music system, 
AM/FM, or TV signal.' 

Management uses computers 
and keystroke software to 
monitor and/or "pace" the work 
of between 20 and 35% of 
American office workers accord- 
ing to a new Office of Technology 
Assessment (OTA) report. 
Another OTA survey found that 
Vs's of 110 organizations 
(surveyed between 1982 and 
1986) engaged in computerized 
employee surveillance, monitor- 
ing, standardized-pace or quota 

A six year study concluded that 
35% of office buildings had no 
fresh air at all; 64% had an in- 
sufficient supply, and 40% had 
recirculation systems that are 
"grossly contaminated" with all 
manner of glop and rot: mold, 
fungi, fiberglass, asbestos, pollen, 
carbon dioxides, benzene, to- 
bacco smoke, formaldehyde, 
copier fumes, toluene from 
cleaning fluids, and TCE and 
TCA from office supplies.' 

"Call accounting," a euphemism 
for auditing or monitoring em- 
ployee phone calls, is "the fastest 
growing segment of the telecom- 
munications industry" according 
to a spokesperson for the Con- 
gressional Office of Technology 
Assessment. A Citicorp executive 
is more to the point: "Call- 
accounting systems help us 
police productivity." Over 63,000 
companies use it to track nearly 
10 million employees, up from 
an estimated 25,000 companies 
in 1985. Most office phone sys- 
tem manufacturers offer call- 
monitoring software as an option 
with their equipment. Observed 
BUSINESS WEEK: "Call audit- 
ing — and eavesdropping on em- 
ployee's phone conversations — 
are both acceptable under federal 
privacy laws as long as they're 
part of an established [sic] job 
performance evaluation program." - 



1. Curt Suplee, "The Electronic 
Sweatshop: How Computers and 
Cupidity are Turning your Office 
into a High-Tech Nightmare," The 
Washington Post, 3 January 1988. 

2. Annetta Miller et al, "Stress on 
the Job," Newsweek, 25 April 1988 

3. Marilyn Goldhaber (MPH), 
Michael Polen (MA) and Robert 

Hiatt (MD, PhD), "The Risk of 
Miscarriage and Birth Defects 
Among Women who use Visual Dis- 
play Terminals During Pregnancy," 
American Journal of Industrial 
Medicine, Vol. 13, 1988. 
4. Marianna King, "Computers May 
Be Hazardous to Your Health," 



In many ways our cities are our most neglected en- 
vironments. Australians are not renowned for being 
the most avid city dwellers. Some authors have shown 
that the suburban house in fact evolved from a desire 
to escape city life, and stems from rural ideals. 

Despite being a highly urbanised nation, Australia is 
steeped in the tradition of "the bush" — the birthplace of 
the Australian character and home of the essential Aus- 
tralian spirit. Perhaps this strong anti-city bias derives 
from early European settlers who left crowded prisons 
or poverty behind them to make a new life in a vast 

In any case, the arrival of the motor car, both here 
and in the U.S., accentuated this flight from the city. 
Consequently in both countries we find a public environ- 
ment which can be hostile and uninviting. 

This negative attitude to the city and dependence on 
car travel hampers the search for creative urban alter- 
natives. G. Ashworth, an author on city planning, 
describes Los Angeles as a "nightmarish sprawling anti-city 
peopled by a rootless and lonely crowd, in which all the rich, multi- 
farious and interdependent functions of the traditional city have 
been eliminated by the means of transport. " Another writer, K.R. 
Schneider warns: "People escape to suburbs and abandon the 
city. 'Los Angelization' of the earth turns it into a mass habitat 
of defensive privacy and incessant movement. " 

Learning From Europe 

Rather than despair at such trends we can look to 
Europe for guidance and inspiration. European cities 
provide some general principles on how Australian and 
American cities might balance their transport systems 
and restore a much-needed human dimension to their 
urban environments. 

Europe's pro-urban tradition is seen in the vibrant 
"living centres" of cities such as Munich, Vienna and 
Stockholm. They cater extensively to pedestrians and 
are places where people enjoy being— for eating outdoors, 
entertainment or relaxation. Can we create a similar 
human dimension to our own cities — producing a day 
and night carnival atmosphere with markets, festivals 
and concerts? 

Compact Planning For Better Cities 

European cities are much more compact than ours. 
They have a balance between cars, public transport, 
walking and bicycling. Residential areas, usually mixed 
with shops and other attractions, are knitted together 
with walkways, cycleways, subways and tram systems. 

Europeans accept a higher density environment be- 
cause they gain in terms of convenience, diversity and 
character. Car ownership is not essential. The result is 
a more sustainable city in energy terms, consuming 
about 60% less petrol per person than in Australia and 
therefore producing less pollution. 

High density living then, seems to be synonymous 
with the essence of what a city should be. Schneider 
says that "The city is inherently a concentration of 
people, structures and activities. . .low density contradicts 
the very nature of a city." 

Open Spaces 

Many Australians might be wary of higher density 
living because of a perceived threat to their open spaces. 
Experience in Europe however, suggests that this concern 
is unwarranted. In fact European cities are generally 
richly endowed with magnificent public open spaces 
giving a sense of nature right in their midst. 

Well-known examples are: Munich's Englischer Gar- 
ten and International Garden Expo and Copenhagen's 
Jaegersborg Deer Park. Ironically, it is partly because 
of compact planning that such large, accessible open 
spaces remain. 

The European countryside is also readily accessible — 
25 minutes on an electric train will generally get you 
into farms and forests. Australian cities by contrast 
consume their natural hinterlands with urban sprawl 
and the countryside gets further away each day. 

Our Cities — The Future 

So where does this leave us? I believe that the best 
direction for our city planning is to aim at developing 
several types of city in one — in an effort to expand di- 
versity and choice. 

The walking city — For those who wish to live within 
walking distance of most things. The central city and 

Page 26 


sub-centres on railway lines could be 
developed with housing and other at- 
tractions mixed together at high density. 
Such housing would service people who 
don't want a car and desire a really urban 
lifestyle. Communal activities and shared 
public spaces would provide a more hu- 
man environment creating a sense of vi- 
tality, diversity and involvement. Exten- 
sive planning for pedestrians and em- 
phasis on bicycles would also characterize 
these areas. 

The public transport city — The old 
public transport spines, especially the rail- 
ways, can be rejuvenated with medium 
density housing to allow people to be 
within walking or riding distance of a fast, 
efficient public transport service. Such a 
lifestyle could provide the majority of 
activities without use of a car. It would 
be essential to have an attractive mix of 
urban activities clustered around the sta- 
tions, which themselves would become 

diverse mini-urban centres. Innovative 
types of cluster housing could provide 
acceptable living space standards for 
young families and good separation of 
pedestrian and road traffic. Sydney and 
Melbourne already have elements of this 
type of development. 

The automobile city — Between the 
walking and public transport cities there 
would be the typical Australian suburb 
with its low density and high car owner- 
ship. This type of development would 
remain a major part of the city, but not 
completely dominate the urban scene as 
it does now. 

A Natural Model 

The idea of introducing diversity into 
our cities is rather like what happens in 
nature as communities mature — the plants 
and animals become more varied and 
their relationships more complex. Such 
complex communities become more 

stable and able to cope with changing 
pressures, unlike an agricultural mono- 
culture which is inherently unstable and 
dependent on large inputs of external 
resources (energy, pesticides, etc.). 

As a nation of city dwellers, we need 
a creative urban vision of the future. Re- 
ductions in suburban sprawl, more com- 
pact and dense development and a re- 
duced dependence on cars seem to be 
both logical and achievable. Such steps 
need not be seen as negative or restric- 
tive. On the contrary they can be posi- 
tive and expansive with the potential to 
enrich and enliven the quality of urban 
life by planning cities as if people mat- 

by Jeffrey R. Kenworthy 

(Excerpted from an article entitled "Australian Cities: Be- 
yond the Suburban Dream" from Habitat Australia, vol. 15, 
#6, Dec. 1987. Magazine of the Australian Conversion 
Foundation. 672-B Glenferrie Rd , Hawthorn Victoria 
3122, Australia.) 

^i ^ A 

«.^ AUTO 


X he automobile connects many dis- 
parate elements in the worldwide pro- 
cess of environmental destruction. 
Yet, the saying, "What's good for 
General Motors is good for the coun- 
try" has truly been taken to heart by 
all quarters of the political spectrum. 
The society that we have shaped re- 
volves around the requirements of the 
automobile, and we have surrendered 
many of the decisions about the quality 
of our lives to those requirements. We 
ignore the implications for the environ- 
ment and for our society in general of 
large-scale use of the automobile, all 
for the sake of a philosophy of con- 
venience and mobility sold to us by 
corporations that make billions of 
dollars in profits from our participa- 
tion in the idea of auto-mobility. 

Automobiles destroy. They have vora- 
cious appetites for a wide range of things 
that we choose not to recognize as con- 
sequences. Automobiles destroy human 
lives. They destroy air quality. They 
destroy agricultural land as they encourage 

suburbanization. Automobiles destroy 
cities with their land requirements for 
parking. They destroy the quality of our 
lives as we spend more and more time 
behind the wheel chasing down the in- 
creasingly distant parts of our daily exis- 

Auto-destruction. The face of the earth 
is being paved, developed, drilled, lit- 
tered, trivialized and homogenized to 
accomodate the spread of auto-society 
in the name of consumer convenience. 
It is a worldwide phenomenon that has 
gone largely unremarked throughout the 
evolution of the automobile society, ex- 
cept in Repo Man and by rabid, foam- 
ing urban planners. 

Auto-society had its beginning in the 
policies of the federal and state govern- 
ments in the 1920s that encouraged road- 
building and the construction of housing 
in low density suburbs. Zoning laws were 
initiated to keep densities low and prices 
high, which would keep out the poor and 
the minorities. 

During World War II, the railroads 
and public transit systems were used in- 
tensively and emerged from the war in 
poor physical condition. Instead of help- 
ing to rebuild the railroads that they had 
relied on so heavily for the war effort, 
the federal government began to pour 
money into the road system. Massive 
roadbuilding campaigns, begun in the 
1930s, were intensified in the post-World 
War II period with the beginning of work 
on the Interstate and Defense Highway 

In the postwar period of nuclear hys- 
teria, the federal government embarked 
on a concerted policy of decentralization, 
with the aim of making the United States 
less vulnerable to nuclear attack. Part of 
the aim was to get away from dependence 
on railroads, which were seen as too vul- 
nerable to attack. The Interstate network 
was seen as a way to encourage non- 
railroad intercity travel and decentrali- 
zation of the industrial base. And just 
incidently, the freeways would be built 
to the dimensions of a tank on a flatbed 


Page 27 

truck so that the mihtary could use the 
system in the event of a war. 

Another aspect of the decentrahzation 
poHcy was the Veterans Administration 
(VA) Housing Loan Program, which the 
federal government commenced after the 
war. This program gave loans to veterans 
for housing purchases, but required them 
to buy new houses, which were all lo- 
cated in dispersed suburbs, reachable 
only by automobile. 

The process of building auto-society 
has not been solely the result of the 

to destroy public transit so that people 
would buy automobiles. The companies 
that made up this trust understood that 
more money could be made by making 
Americans into individual automobile 
drivers than by providing transit services. 
A transportation system based on auto- 
mobility enriches the corporate coffers 
as no other consumer industry does. A 
public transit vehicle can be used by hun- 
dreds of people daily, and does not spend 
much time idle. The high utilization of 
one public transit vehicle decreases the 

"market forces" of individual consumers 
expressing preferences for private auto- 
mobiles. The automakers, construction 
industry, tire manufacturers, and the oil 
industry were all strong lobbyists for the 
conversion of the transportation system 
to an auto-system, due to their obvious 
interests in the profits to be made by 
such a system. These industries took a 
more active role than simply lobbying, 
however. Their role took the form of a 
trust that was set up to systematically 
destroy streetcar and bus companies 
throughout the country from the 1930s 
to the early 1960s. This effort was known 
as National City Lines, and its role in 
this conspiracy was confirmed by a fed- 
eral court decision in 1949 that resulted 
in nominal $1000 fines for each of the 
companies that participated. 

National City Lines was a holding 
company formed by General Motors, 
Standard Oil, Phillips Petroleum, Fire- 
stone, and Mack Truck that was set up 
to purchase financially ailing privately 
owned streetcar systems, with the aim of 
abandoning them as quickly as possible. 
National City Lines strove to drive away 
as many passengers as possible by making 
the service inconvenient through lack of 
maintenance, cutting service and substi- 
tuting buses for faster and more direct 
rail vehicles. 

The streetcar systems that were re- 
constituted as bus systems bought CM 
and Mack buses, burned Standard and 
Phillips fuel, and ran on Firestone tires. 
The real aim of the trust, however, was 

number of automobiles that the vehicle 
manufacturers can sell. 

In the auto-economy, volunteer labor 
is substituted for paid union labor. The 
automobile transforms everyone into 
their own volunteer driver and mechanic. 
A public transportation system creates 
jobs for people to do the work to allow 
the rest of us to move around an urban 
area without the need for absolutely every- 
one to pay attention to traffic. In public 

cooperatively-run groups; dependent on 
each other for food, shelter, protection, 
survival, and assistance to get started 
when they got to where they were going. 
The myth has been reinforced by fifty 
years of John Wayne and Ronald Rea- 
gan movies, which confirm that com- 
pletely independent loners somehow 
forged a new society out of solid rock. 

This philosophy has come to mean 
that all real Americans naturally prefer to 
do everything for themselves, and by 
themselves if possible. The flip side of 
the philosophy is that activities that bring 
too many people together or are too pub- 
lic are somehow suspect. We have been 
so conditioned to think of transportation 
as an individual activity, that to many 
people, public transportation looks like a 
socialist activity, and something to be 
avoided at all costs. 

In transportation, this philosophy has 
been translated into widespread agree- 
ment at the politicians' level that govern- 
ment really has no place in the public 
transit business. However, the same 
people who wring their hands and view 
public transportation as creeping social- 
ism see nothing wrong with the govern- 
ment spending billions to build freeways 
and other roads to enable the automakers, 
oil companies and trucking companies 
to turn a tidy profit at the taxpayers' 
expense. Similarly, the financing of the 
airline industry by the federal govern- 
ment is substantial, yet this is viewed as 
a reasonable expense, whereas Amtrak 
and urban public transit are not. You 
only need to take a look at which systems 
the decisionmakers use and where their 

transportation, labor costs are 60-75% of 
the cost of running the system. Obvious- 
ly, our political economy likes to have 
you do the labor. 


The idea of Americans as freedom- 
loving auto-owners appeals to those who 
cherish the myth of the rugged Emer- 
sonian individual, who won the West all 
by himself on his own individual horse. 
Never mind that the vast majority of 
people who moved west did so in large, 

campaign contributions come from to see 
that there is a little more than selfless 
public spirit at work here. 


Auto-mobility promotes a dispersed 
style of living that increases energy use 
by reducing walking, encouraging auto 
trip making, and emphasizing a pattern 
of low density residential construction. 

The inevitable result of more auto- 
. mobility for everyone is a homogenous 
pattern of land use in which the require- 

Page 28 


ments of the auto become the dominant 
factor in the design of the areas we Hve 
and work in. In order to accommodate 
an individual two-ton steel travel unit 
for each person, our urban areas become 
isolated buildings surrounded by a vast 
sea of parking lots. Each activity center 
requires enough parking to accommodate 
all the people who could conceivably 
want to come there simultaneously in 
their individual autos. This spreads out 
activities all over the map, making it 
necessary to travel ever-longer distances 
to pursue daily life. 

As more and more land is needed for 
parking and ever-wider roads, our desti- 
nations become more and more spread 
out, which precludes the possibilities for 
most people to walk or bicycle for their 
daily journeys. It also makes it hard for 
public transit to be effective, due to the 
low density of potential riders and the 
wide dispersion of destinations. This be- 
comes a self-reinforcing cycle that con- 
tinuously encourages more driving and 
requires more parking and roads. (Trans- 
portation engineers estimate that it takes 
12 to 20 lanes of road to move the same 
number of people per hour as a double- 
track rail transit line. Consequently, ur- 
ban roads require extremely wide right- 
of-ways through areas that become in- 
creasingly unattractive no-man's-lands.) 

Every year, between 2 and 3 million 
acres of farmland are converted from 
agricultural use to urban use or are idled 
for development speculation. This is often 
land that formerly provided fresh fruit 
and vegetables. Up to one-half of that 
land is considered "prime farmland." Re- 
moving this land from agricultural pro- 
duction requires that other, less produc- 
tive land be brought into production to 
make up for the loss. These lands are 
often on steeper slopes, increasing soil 
erosion. As less productive land is farmed, 
it generally requires more land area to 
produce the same yield. 

Massive urban renewal and urban free- 
way projects in many East Coast cities 
in the 1960s devastated what were pre- 
viously livable downtowns and neighbor- 
hoods. San Francisco managed to stop 
much of this type of activity in the late 
1950s with the Freeway Revolt, led by 
well-to-do homeowners in St. Francis 
Wood. In other cities, the threatened 
neighborhoods were more often working 
class and minority neighborhoods, with 
less of a voice in City Hall. Boston, in 
particular, underwent massive surgery 
as freeways were cut through the Irish 
and Italian working class neighborhoods 
close to downtown, essentially cutting 
them off from communication with the 
rest of the city. 




T ni 

When was the last time someone opened 
their car door in your face? Or made a 
left turn right in front of you, as if you 
weren't even there? Or decided to 
double-park, nearly causing you to ride 
into the back of their car? 

Whether you commute regularly by 
bicycle, work as a bike messenger, or 
simply enjoy riding your bike recrea- 
tionally, these are just a few of the nu- 
merous hazards we bicyclists face as 
normal conditions on the streets of San 
Francisco. Extreme alertness can avoid 
most accidents, but let's face it — bicycles 
need their own right of way. Painting a 
stripe on a street and putting up a few 
signs saying "Bike Lane" do nothing to 
address the fundamental inadequacy of 
existing conditions for bicyclists. 

Bicycling is currently an invisible form 
of transportation in San Francisco. In 
spite of the ridiculously unsafe routes, 
hundreds, maybe thousands, of San Fran- 
ciscans use their bikes regularly. Imagine 
how many more people might bicycle if 
it were safe and more convenient! 

The city of San Francisco can take a 
big stride into the future by creating a 
series of criss-crossing panhandles, three 
each going North-South and East-West, 
plus two going diagonally. These could 
be created by using apx. 40% of a given 
residential street, converting one side 
into 90° parking, making one lane of 
one-way traffic, then building an island 
filled with beautiful -looking and smell- 
ing trees, shrubs, and flowers. Then, be- 
tween the island and the pedestrian/ 
garage-access lane there would be a 
two-way bikeway. Like Copenhagen and 
Amsterdam, bicyclists would have their 
own traffic signals at large intersections 
and at smaller ones, cars would yield 
to bike cross traffic. 

The advantages of building such a system 
would be numerous: 

• Bicyclists would be physically pro- 
tected from auto traffic, and also from 
auto exhaust by the horticultural barrier. 

• Bicycle use would increase dramati- 
cally, lowering the frequency of car use, 
thereby improving air quality and traf- 
hc congestion, and public transit would 
also become less over-crowded. 

• The general health of the city's pxDpu- 
lation would improve as more people 
bicycled, and had better air to breathe. 

• San Francisco would become more 
beautiful and livable as even a relative- 
ly small percentage of its total land area 
is reclaimed from asphalt and automo- 

• Owning a car would become less 
necessary (especially if bikeways were 
developed across the bridges and 
throughout the Bay Area) and this will 
lead to an easing of the parking crunch 
in many neighborhoods. 

Economic benefits would arise too: 

• Unemployed teenagers, low-income 
residents, and building trade workers 
would all benefit as the public works 
program to build the new bikeways 
puts thousands to work. The resulting 
personal income generates a spending 
boom, lifting retail sales and improving 
the overall economy and standard-of- 

• Tourism will get a shot in the arm, 
as the City's ad campaign to "Come 
and Ride in the Most Beautiful City in 
North America" attracts thousands of 
new visitors. 

• Hundreds of new permanent jobs 
are created in bicycle manufacturing, 
sales and repair, and bikeway main- 
tenance. The City hires several hundred 
additional gardeners to maintain bike- 
way gardens. 

• The City sets up a system where for 
$2/month residents can "check out" bi- 
cycles (like the library) from way-stations 
along the bikeways — everyone's cost of 
living would thus go down. (If a stereo 
retailer can give bicycles away, why 
can't S.F. acquire a fleet of 5000 for its 
prospective bicycling residents?). 

The entire plan could be financed 
through a l<t-a-gallon gas tax and a 
progressive annual tax on S.F. -registered 
cars: e.g. 1st car at an address, $5; 2nd, 
$25; 3rd, $50; and so on. Car insurance 
companies could also be taxed. Autos 
can no longer be the backbone of trans- 
portation — they never should have been 
in San Francisco. S.F. can be in the 
forefront by adopting the City ol Pan- 
handles Plan. Interested in working to 
make this a reality? Contact Bicyclists for 
a Right of Way! c/o PW, 4 1 Sutter St . # 1 829 
San Francisco, CA 94104. 

— A Frustrated S.F. Bicyclist 


Page 29 

However smug the Bay Area may 
have been in the late 1950s and early 
1960s, it is currently undergoing one of 
the largest development booms in the 
country. This boom is occuring in the 
formerly rural outer reaches of several 
counties, and the level of roadway con- 
struction and auto-mobility is rapidly 
obliterating much of the open space that 
formerly gave the illusion that the Bay 
Area might escape the fate of a sea of 

The health effects of auto-culture go 
beyond the more obvious aspects of the 
air pollution visible in most urban areas 
worldwide. The effects of particulates 
and chemicals from auto exhaust have 
been widely acknowledged, although the 
government and the automakers have 
routinely relaxed standards for minimizing 
these effects. Toxic chemical pollution 
from the petroleum products needed to 
operate automobiles is a widespread 
phenomenon. These toxic petroleum 
products cover the streets we cross daily, 
and wash off the streets into the earth's 

water system every time it rains. Gas 
station sites are usually so saturated with 
toxic residue from petroleum products 
that if the site is converted to any other 
use, it is necessary to perform a thorough 
toxic cleanup before building anything 

Our transportation system has become 
one in which the object is to move ve- 
hicles around, not people. The logic of 
the highway engineer is that more high- 
way construction is needed to solve the 
congestion problems on the roadways 
that result from too many people driving. 
The result is that new and wider high- 
ways encourage more trip-making and 
more development in the areas where the 
highways have been "improved." In the 
last 20 years, every new urban freeway 
that California has built has been filled 
to near-capacity as soon as it has been 
opened. This pattern ensures that high- 
way engineers will have guaranteed jobs 
for the foreseeable future. 

The issue of environmental problems 
created by the automobile has never been 
a popular topic. The concept of an inte- 
grated vision of the world's ecology has 
not yet fully recognized the automobile 
as the environmental disaster that it is. 
To be sure, certain elements of auto- 
destruction have been addressed in limited 
ways, such as questioning the effects of 
auto exhaust on air quality, resulting in 
carefully limited efforts by the automo- 
bile corporations and the government to 
reduce auto exhaust emissions. Unad- 
dressed, however, are the more basic 
questions of the environmental and social 
effects of basing a worldwide transpor- 
tation policy on the automobile. Even 
most elements of the environmental 
movement do not address the overall ef- 
fects of creating an auto-society. Could 
it be that a culture subservient to the 
demands of auto-mobility has lost its 
perspective on the subject? 

by Duncan Watry 

To Save the Aquifer, We had to Spoil the Water . . 

aquifer /ak-woe-kr/ n. [NL, fr, L aqua + -fer] (1901): 
a water-bearing stratum of permeable rock, sand 
or gravel. 

SILICON VALLEY -The onset of a drought in Cali- 
fornia has made unlikely conservationists out of the 
greasiest groundwater polluters in Silicon Valley. Citing 
an imminent water shortage, authorities allowed IBM 
and Fairchild Semiconductor to scale back an extensive 
pollution containment operation because it involved 
pumping water from an already low aquifer. No one 
disputes the results. IBM and Fairchild will save mil- 
lions of dollars, and San Jose may once again draw tap 
water containing solvents whose grim effects as recently 
as 1982 included a rash of birth defects. This latest 
desertion of common sense illustrates what happens 
when technology experts define pollution problems so 
narrowly that one ill-advised solution after another 
appears adequate, even as each entails more pollution. 

Pump 'n Dump 

Since chemicals began leaking from the IBM and 
Fairchild facilities into groundwater and soil in the early 
'80s, the companies and compliant authorities main- 
tained an elaborate and expensive charade, going through 

the motions of a "cleanup" but in fact barely contain- 
ing a deadly underground chemical plume. The leaking 
chemicals include solvents dangerous at the level of 
parts per billion: DCE, an acknowledged carcinogen, 
and TCA, a suspected carcinogen whose correlation 
with fetal disorders became notorious in 1982. That 
year saw an alarming increase in birth defects in a south 
San Jose neighborhood near the leaking Fairchild TCA 
tanks. Denying the correlation, despite animal research 
and a special state study that corroborated it, Fairchild, 
IBM, and other culpables finally settled the neighbor- 
hood's class action suit out of court and in camera in 1986. 
But not before IBM's policy of disavowal visited IBM 
employees. According to an IBM-San Jose production 
worker, IBM reacted to news of the 1982 miscarriages 
by removing bottled water dispensers from some facilities in the 
contaminated zone, leaving employees no choice but to 
"back IBM" by drinking tap water, or bring in their own 
bottled water. 

Where the trail of their chemicals led, IBM and Fair- 
child eventually followed, drilling shafts and pumping 
up tainted water. But rather than cleaning the water and 
making it available to communities, IBM and Fairchild 
dumped the swill into creeks that drained into the San 
Francisco Bay wedands. This strategy received the 

Page 30 


blessing of experts who said the solvents would evaporate 
in the creeks before reaching the S.F. Bay. The experts 
were wrong. From the underground plume and the 
creeks TCA spread to over two dozen public and pri- 
vate drinking wells on which over 100,000 San Jose resi- 
dents depend. In 1985, prodded by the Silicon Valley 
Toxics Coalition and Citizens for a Better Environment, 
the Regional Water Quality Control Board ordered IBM 
and Fairchild to treat or filter the water. Instead it ap- 
pears that the creek-dumping was merely re-routed. 

As it was the "pump and dump" strategy accelerated 
the depletion of a geologically old aquifer at rates in 
excess of 12 million gallons /^^r c/aj;. Thus, in 1988, well 
into its second rain-sparse year, did California authori- 
ties allow IBM and Fairchild to reduce their pumping. 
Among the officially acknowledged casualties are patrons 
of the Great Oaks Water Company which operates a 
drinking well less than 2,000 feet from a soon-to-be 
inactive Fairchild pump site. To its credit, the water 
company refuses to supply customers water with any 
detectable levels of industrial chemicals, and announced 
it would shut down the well if it becomes contaminated, 
which is a virtual certainty. This may not be to the liking 
of water authorities in a drought year. If the well remains 
open, Fairchild and IBM will likely elude litigation from 
any subsequent public contamination since water offi- 
cials ordered the scale back. Less discriminating pri- 
vate and public well overseers will simply pass on the 
solvent-laced water to customers. 

It would be a little comforting if this latest debacle weakened 
the expert's resolve to accept risks on our behalf. The inci- 
dent, however, occurs in a state where the quality of water 
increasingly reflects the politics that have always governed its 
use, a politics so grimy that in 1986, the usually accommodating 
federal government stripped California of its authority to 
manage most of its toxic waste programs. In Silicon Valley, 
where shopping and the elimination of slow word processing 
software leave barely enough time for aerobics, most people 
prefer the expedient of bottled water over defense of their 
aquifer. In such a culture a ridiculous water policy finds quiet 
acceptance, reflecting the trickle-down of "acceptable risk" 
into daily life. 

by Dennis Hayes 

For the latest conditions — and advisories — on Silicon 
Valley water, write or phone the Silicon Valley Toxics 
Coalition, 760 North First Street, 2nd Floor, San Jose, 
CA 95 112 (408) 287-6707. 

AS WE GO TO PRESS! A three-year California Department 
of Health Services study found that pregnant women who 
drank tap water in Silicon Valley and environs (Santa Clara, 
Alameda and San Mateo Counties) had significantly higher 
rates of miscarriages and birth defects than those who drank 
no tap water during their pregnancies. Up to twice as many 
miscarriages and nearly four times as many birth defects oc- 
curred. The study represented a follow-up to the Fairchild- 
IBM neighborhood study cited above. Once again, health 
officials let us down: "We have enough evidence to warrant 
further study by not enough to warrant a health advisory." 

"Acceptable Risk" in Disarray? 

Throughout the containment operation, IBM boasted of the 
millions of dollars it was spending on the "clean-up," as if the 
spending of money secured the correctness of the method. The 
technology to purify tainted water and to monitor it at the 
level of parts per billion was readily available. A fair account- 
ing might, in fact, show that the whole "pump and dump" 
strategy proved more expensive to IBM and Fairchild than 
actually treating the water. But treating the water would have 
been an admission of guilt as well as a precedent IBM, Fair- 
child, and the entire electronics industry deemed unwise. 

What sustained the madness of the "pump and dump" cor- 
rective all these years? The doctrine of "acceptable risk" that 
has compromised virtually every clean-up and preventive ef- 
fort in Silicon Valley. Acceptable risk embraces the premise 
that investments in current manufacturing processes, no mat- 
ter how menacing, are non-negotiable social facts. Acceptable 
risk assigns to human beings and the biosphere a limitless 
capacity to absorb "low-level" contamination. The rationale, 
akin to that of "light" brands of cigarettes and beer, is that 
TCA and DCE in small amounts are not unhealthful. As Betty 
Roeder of the Great Oaks Water Company put it: "People in 
our area don't like this idea of light contamination." 

Still, acceptable risk retains its currency among pollution 
officials, industrial interests, and accommodating natural 
resource authorities almost everywhere. In the IBM and Fair- 
child episode, the doctrine exhibited a fresh resiliency, since 
there is recent and tragic evidence of the limits to absorbing 
"low-level" TCA: the birth defects that visited a San Jose 
neighborhood just six years ago. Are these, in 1988, reckoned 
"acceptable risks"? If so, who among the community of ex- 
perts has the stomach to say so? 




by Tom Tomorrow 

Page 31 


Tillie— "In front of my eyes one part of the world was becoming 
another. Atoms exploding, flinging off tiny bullets that caused 
the fountain, atom after atom breaking down into something new. " 
— Paul Zindel, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in- 
the-Moon Marigolds 

Photo plate 7. Muriel Howorth is wearing a white — 
is it fluffy, or is the photograph blurred? — bejeweled 
turban. She conceals a sagging neck beneath a high col- 
lar, but maintains a forceful feminity with a glittering 
string of ball-bearing beads. Muriel cocks her head coyly 
and lovingly fingers the nuts. 

The peanuts. 

Muriel was an early propagandist of the "peaceful 
uses of the atom," a campaign to sweeten the advent of 
the bitter bomb with promises of nickel-a-month electric 
bills and cars that ran and ran with nary a trip to the 
service station. Her works included The Peaceful Uses of 
Atomic Energy, Atomic Transmutation: the Greatest Discovery 
Ever Made, dind Atom in Wonderland. 

To secure her position as British Empress of the Atom, 
Muriel Howorth in 1960 dreamed up a project to foster 
genetic diversity in seed stock. The traditional way to 
get new plant varieties had been to send a botanical 
expedition out to the colonies to "discover" what might 
be there. This method had worked very well in the past. 
But the colonies were no longer as dependable: 1947 
India, 1956 Sudan, 1957 Ghana, 1957 Malaya, 1960 
Nigeria. . . gone, all gone. Britain would have to find 
ways to make do by itself. 

Muriel's decree, exhortation and chronicle was a book 
entitled Atomic Gardening. She started her tale by describ- 
ing one of her dinner parties in the Great Dining Hall 
of the Royal Commonwealth Society. Passed around 
were dishes of roasted, salted nuts produced from "NC 
4x" stock— North Carolina 4th generation X-rayed. 
This was a line of peanuts that had been developed 
from stock that had been irradiated to induce mutation 
and then stabilized over four generations to preserve a 
set of desired characteristics — sturdiness, pest resistance, 
high yield. 

Muriel had buckets of leftover ingredients. As she 

. . . / began inspecting my uncooked nuts wondering what I 
would do with them all. One day I was engaged in tidying up 

some begonia plants when I had the idea to throw one away, re- 
soil the pot and pop an irradiated peanut in the sandy loam to see 
how this mutant grew . . . This 'Muriel Howorth' peanut as it 
came to be called, germinated in four days. That was indeed some- 
thing unusual, and as it grew with uncanny speed from day to 
day, closing its leaves tightly together at night, like a child's hands 
clasped in prayer, stems leaning over as though to lay their heads 
on a pillow, I became fascinated with ... a most unusual growth 

The atomic peanut hit the media. A couple of news- 
papers ran articles about the peanut, but the best forum 
seems to have been television. The peanut had an aura 
that its audience wanted to witness in a more sustained 
form than was possible in a newspaper photograph. Besides 
there was something about an atomic peanut that suited 
the banal jocularity of the medium. Wally Effner from 
Southern TV interviewed Muriel at the Wannock Show 
Garden, where the half-lived atomic peanut had gone 
to reside under the ministrations of a professional horti- 
culturalist. Wally demanded to be shown the "goods," 
and the "horrified" Muriel held herself back as the plant 
was pulled out of its pot, with the roots and baby pea- 
nuts displayed in their "nakedness." As Wally said, that 
was "showing 'em something for their money." A week 
later, Joe Hill, television gardener, had her on his show, 
live. Joe Hill asked if the more than 300 correspon- 
dents who had written to Muriel about membership in 
the Atomic Garden Society had addressed their letters 
"Muriel Howorth, Teanuts', Eastbourne." 

Finally, an American press agency wrote a story and 
took her picture, transforming proper authoress Muriel 
into "a glamorous film vamp, the double of Marlene 
Dietrich." What the heck, it was publicity. The article 
was printed throughout the world. 

It was good the world knew what to expect. Muriel's 
ultimate project was to feed it. 

In 600 years time, at the present rate, there will be one human 
being on every square yard of land. . . It becomes imperative for 
each one of us to help feed these people. 

Muriel was such a holdover from the British imperial 
era. She could not think of the hungering masses as 
anything but "these people," — that is, the others. But 
still, Muriel felt a patrician duty to provide. A telling 
detail: Muriel had a beloved black cat she called "Nigger." 

Muriel founded the Atomic Gardening Society to dis- 

Pag0 32 


tribute irradiated seeds to thousands of 
British gardeners. These gardeners turned , 
their home garden into experimental sta- 
tions, sowing and raising the seeds and 
taking careful notes of the behavior of 
even the most bizarre, seemingly useless 
mutant. Muriel claimed that plants would 
eventually appear that would produce 
astounding yields and resistances — the 
potato that ate caterpillars, the green 
bean that required a chain saw to julienne. 

The point of the North Carolina pea- 
nut project seems to have been not so 
much to create artificial mutations, but to 
develop a method of genetic research. 
A letter, from the School of Agriculture, 
Raleigh, that Muriel published makes 
this clear: 

We agree this is a fine achievement but 
consider the genetic studies made possible by 
the artificial mutation process and its products 
to be, in the long run, a much greater contri- 
bution to world welfare. 

The NC 4x plant came out of an ori- 
ginal sowing of 500,000 seeds. The Ato- 
mic Garden Society sent out six seeds at 
a time. At that rate, it would have taken 
more than 80,000 gardeners to duplicate 
the North Carolina effort. Other varie- 
ties of atom-blasted seeds were available 
in greater quantities from a Dutch im- 
porter—but still, that's an awful lot of 
window boxes. It is painful to think of the 
effort it would have taken to monitor the 
jottings on the hundreds of thousands of 
notecards. Each amateur gardener was 

encouraged to file a card on every plant 
that germinated. 

The project wasn't viable, to use a 
horticultural term. By 1967, marigolds 
were the only irradiated seed still avail- 
able to amateurs and this was solely 
because Burpee Seed Company was offer- 
ing a prize of $10,000 for the first white 
marigold (peroxide didn't count). As it 
turned out, the first white marigold 
popped up from seed treated with nothing 
more than rain water. 

Mr. Green Genes 

Even so partisan a group as the Inter- 
national Atomic Energy Agency would 
report by 1971 that radiation induced 
mutations were no substitute for the con- 
servation of naturally-occuring germ 
plasm. That germ plasm has been col- 
lected by hundreds of generations of 
Third World farmers who have searched 
out the genetic strains upon which our 
agriculture is based. Generally, these 
strains come from tropical and subtropi- 
cal regions that escaped the genetic deva- 
station of the grand glaciers and have a 
long history of thoughtful agriculture. 
Ethiopia/Asia Minor gave us wheat and 
onions (and we pay them back with 
schmaltzy pop songs — Feed the...). 
Tomatoes and potatoes, both of the Sola- 
naceae botanic familv, came down from 

"Atom-Shsted" Seed t 


Page 33 

the Andes for a visit and decided to stay — 
before the sojourn, Deadly Nightshade 
was their only relative that Europeans 
had any use for. Without the contribu- 
tions of Central Asia and Asia Minor, 
there would be no Baroque still lifes, 
which are catalogs of Western genetic 
shopping sprees in those regions — al- 
monds, apples, apricots, cherries, dates, 
figs, grapes, melons, pomegranates, 
watermelons all come from there. Muriel 
Howorth's beloved peanut started out in 
Brazil/Uruguay — which also gave us 
tapioca pudding with canned pineapple, 
indirectly. Outside the Mediterranean 
region, only sugar beets originated in 

Each year, farmers would plant several 
venerable strains of their important crops. 
Particular strains would be resistant to 
different unforeseen occurences — drought, 
infestation, wind storms, late frosts. 
These strains are known as "land races." 
Collecting land races for the genetic en- 
richment of the fields back home has been 
an important western colonial project. 

Instead of harboring land races, west- 
ern agricultural scientists now run relay 
races. When it becomes clear that the la- 
test monocropped super-strain is running 

into problems, they go to the gene bank 
and withdraw the capital to tinker out a 
new variety that they hope will succeed — 
for a couple years at least. 

But the bank is collapsing. The alarm- 
ing destruction of rain forests is grossly 
shrinking the globe's genetic diversity. 
And the bank's small savers — the peas- 
ants—are becoming borrowers as western 
agribusiness eradicates their multicrop- 
ping practices in the name of the "Green 

The First World owes more to the 
Third than we have been led to believe. 
Blasting seeds with radiation is no substi- 
tute for preserving the germ plasm that 
already exists. This is partly a matter of 
preserving natural environments like the 
rain forests. It is also a matter of at- 
tending to social systems. The peasant 
who tends and stores a wide range of seeds 
is an invaluable resource. The president 
of Standard Oil should be shoveling her 

— by Mark Leger 

Page 34 




XVA"Yes. A couple of weekends ago one of the 
ATM machines ripped me off for $140.00. I went in 
the next day and filled out forms and the promised to 
correct it soon, and it looks like they did try, because I 
received in the mail yesterday this pink piece of paper 
saying I'm to be reimbursed for the $140 but it hasn't 
shown up yet on my account balance, and I wonder if 
you could correct that." 

In reality, it was the third time I'd gone complaining to get 
my money back, the third different branch in fact, and I came 
in armed with every piece of paper that I thought might help: my 
October bank statement, my account passbook, a sheet of yellow 
legal paper on which the woman at my neighborhood branch 
wrote down a list of figures from my last three weeks' transac- 
tions, and another long list next to it of my own careful calcu- 
lations based on her list of figures which didn't come out anywhere 
near what the computer said my balance was, a whole $100 off 
in fact; and of course that all-important pink sheet that I didn't 
dare relinquish for fear it might be my only such record. People 
were certainly nice enough when they tried to assist me, but their 
efforts seemed strangely ineffectual. 


The biggest contributor to long-term monogamy in 
New York is not AIDS: it is gentrification. I know 
of three couples who stay together just to keep afford- 
able apartments. The standard joke here is that couples 
used to endure for the sake of the children, but now 
they do it for the apartment. Some joke. 

I know of two women who endured months of blatant 
molestation in order to have a place to sleep. Consider 
the facts: Women generally earn less than men; real 
estate brokers, concerned only about money, are ex- 
tremely reluctant to help a single women; women there- 
fore subjugate themselves to the men who can afford 
the leases. 

Even sexless pairings are unpleasant, although they 
might seem more amusing. A friend of mine, an even- 
tempered artist, began taking valium nightly to calm 
herself during the rowdy parties that her manic room- 
mate threw until six in the morning. By taking a semi- 
respectable teaching job my friend was able to afford an 
apartment in one of the city's fading artists' havens. 
Yet she did not have much of a chance to go to galleries 
or work on art: her teaching left her drained and her 
drug habit left her three-quarters unconscious. 

A man, desperate to get away from his roommate, 
would up spending his life's savings to stay in a hotel 
until he could find another arrangement. To pay the 
rent when he finally found a place, he switched from 
working as a 30-hour- a-week proofreader to a 60-hour- 
a-week paralegal. Like so many residents in New York, 
he was forced to forsake a lot of free time and accept a 
more mainstream existence. 

It used to be that only college students had room- 
mates. Forced pairing didn't seem like a great ordeal; 
and if the student can't adapt, he could console himself 
with the knowledge that the term wUl end in a few months. 
It seems fitting for a society to inflict this on students as 
a process of socialization: by forcing students to live with 
strangers, the system teaches them to live within a group 
and compromise individual needs. The students "adjust" 
to living in the adult world. 

Now everyone, regardless of age, is subject to such 
conditions— eveiy one that is who has not adopted a careerist 
lifestyle replete with high wages. The adult world has 
become much more strict and the pressures to conform 
are severe. 

The city itself has been forced to conform: Through 
pain, upheaval and deprivation, it has lost most of the 
eccentric character that once defined it. The myth is 
that yuppies are drawn here by the city's art and cul- 
ture, nightlife and variety — things that offer an enter- 
taining break from the pressures of the business world. 


Page 98 

"Well, first of all I need a new passbook; this one was 
filled up weeks ago." 

"Anything else?" 

"Yes, I need a computer printout of all my transactions 
that have taken place since my last statement in October." 

If there's anything good about this situation it's that I 
no longer throw away my monthly bank statements and 
receipts without looking at them. They always seemed 
like the ultimate junk mail. 

"I'm sorry, I can't give you a printout. You'll have to 
go around to Customer Service and they'll take care of 

And she starts typing numbers into my new passbook. 
She's nice enough. In certain contexts you could even 
call her my friend. Once, when one of the other tellers 
was hassling me for ID that I didn't have with me, this 
one piped up and said, "Oh, I know him!" I usually try 
to arrive at her window when I'm at this downtown 

"Now, my account is fine through October 16th when 
I filled this last book up. It's only sometime after that 
that it starts getting all screwed up. See there, on Novem- 
ber 8th, that's when the ATM machine ripped me off". . ." 

"What happened on November 8th?" 

"I went to make a $200 withdrawal, I punched it in, 
and the machine deducted $200 from my account and 
gave me a receipt for it and then only gave me three $20s 
and shut off completely." 

"Which ATM was that.'' ' 

"The one at Fremont and Mission \ i M number b>,(' ' 
"Isn't that odd!" 

"Actually it's even. But, fact is, that was almost i..o 
weeks ago, and I still haven't gotten all of it back." 

// was the technological nightmare being ripped off blind by 
this cold machine without a witness around anywhere. For thf 
first time in my life I wished for one of those cameras on the it all 
I screamed and pounded the machine with my fists, which did a 
lot of good, as if it was one of those old-fashioned Coke machn:e^ 
that sometimes works right if you pound it hard enough, b..' J 
just hurt my hand. I should know better. 

"When did you fill out the ATM Dispute form?" 

"On November 9th." 

"I'm having trouble accessing your account. . .oh, I 
see, on your passbook I typed in a 6 instead of a 5 1 11 
have to change that!" 

(Just one more thing. . . ) "It says here that you were 
credited on November 13th with $100. I wonder wliy 
you were only credited $100 when it should have been 
$140. You'll have to contact your neighborhood braru h 
and get them to change that." 

"But how come my calculations are still $100 off from 
those that my neighborhood branch gave me, win i. I 
used the same figures? See?" 

"Hmmm ..." 

This ts starting to resemble Ruhard Rrauti^an\ surreal )forv 

But it was clear five years ago, when the developers first 
took over, that gentrification would impoverish the cul- 
ture. The nightclub scene has died, mostly because 
clubs (8BC, Danceteria, etc.) can't pay the rent. High 
rents have also claimed a string of galleries, movie houses 
(most notably the Thalia and the Saint Marks Cinema), 
and even legendary restaurants such as Mama Lleone's. 
Most of these sites are now marked for construction of 
high-priced coops and condominiums. 

Change is most apparent on the streets. Less tfiaii 
five years ago, the East Village managed to maintain 
the appearance of bohemia. You could stroll down lower 
Broadway and encounter unemployed punks, die-hard 
hippies, street corner poets and sidewalk expressionists, 
even better, you caught a glimpse of the city's ethni< 
diversity: Ukrainians, Yugosla\ ians. Indians, Cubans 
Puerto Ricans and old time Easr European Jews wouKi 
all cross this thoroughfare because their neighborhc. i. 

Page 36 


Please Beta>n 

"Complicated Banking Problems, " where he's stuck forever in a 
bank line behind men with absurdly elaborate transactions. 

"Here's the problem. On November 2nd, she wrote 
down a $200 credit and the computer only shows a $100 
credit on November 2nd." 

"Well, which one is correct?" 

"The computer, of course." 

"Then why did she write $200?" 

"She just made a mistake, that's all." 

So I trudge around past vast rows of desks and find 
the one marked "Customer Service." There's a guy there, 
but he's on the phone. Hell be with me in a long moment. 

I realize that I've spent a total of about an hour and a 
half so far at the different branches trying to get my 
money back, and I still haven't gotten all of it back. 

The "Customer Service' man is off the phone now. 
"May I help you?" 

"Yes, I'd like a printout of all my transactions since 

"That will be three dollars please." 

"Three dollars?! She didn't say anything about having 
to fork over three dollars! What kind of 'customer ser- 
vice' is this?" 

I decide I can wait to see the official record of my 
transactions, but I do remember that in all this craziness, 
I'd completely forgotten to make a simple deposit that I 
was there to make in the first place. So I go back to my 

"You never told me there was any charge to receive a 

"Oh yes, that's bank policy." 

"It's starting to not seem such a bad idea to just keep 
my money under my mattress." 

"Well, we're doing the best we can." 

This is hardly an amazing story. What's amazing about it, 
though, is that I still keep my bank account there, and I still use 
the automatic teller machines. I just don't go back to ATM 
number 666. 

by Zoe Noe 

were just around the corner. Now it seems that they 
have been driven out of town. The streets at night are 
louder than ever, but with the cries of young attor- 
neys and bankers drunkenly hopping the trendy bars. 
They all wear the same suit jackets and neat-look hair- 
cuts as they try to relive the frat parties they enjoyed at 
their suburban colleges. 

The only diversity you'll find now is provided by the 
beggars who block the sidewalks with their cardboard 
beds and swollen feet. Everyone knows that the homeless 
population is approaching the six- figure mark. But there 
are signs that even this eyesore will be removed. The 
city will have to face some messy legal hassles before it 
can commit them, but removing them is a first step. 
Mayor Ed Koch, the New York developers' most power- 
ful ally, has the police sweep beggars off the street. More 
sidewalk room for yuppies. 

The culture myth is false. Yuppies are not coming 
here to see old New York; they're here to see the new 
land of yuppies. By taking over the world's greatest city, 
yuppies are making the ultimate '80s statement: They 
no longer have to settle for the suburbs. This land is 
their land now. They no longer have to worry about the 
unstable types, because all those people have been 
driven out. 

Well, almost. A few residents still don't fit in, but 
economic pressures will either force them to flee or drive 
them into the mainstream. Strict monogamy and/or 

made-dominated living arrangements will help put them 
on the right road; the long hours of high-pressured 
work will take care of the rest. Those who still don't con- 
form will be either dosed out on downers or tied up 
working triple-overtime at marginal jobs. Whatever the 
case, they will be rendered invisible. For some. New 
York will become a Utopia. 

Author's Post-script: 

Fortunately, some of the numbing yuppification which I 
satirized has begun to recede. Unfortunately, the polarization 
has become more evident and dangerous. Strolling through East 
Harlem the other day, I saw blood seeping through the cracks 
in the sidewalk. (Or did it come from the crack in the street?) 

I think, folks, that we're in for some crazy times. I suggest 
some of you stop looking back and gaze straight ahead. Just make 
sure you wear your crash helmets. 

by Richard Singer 


Page 37 

A Convention of the Heart 

On the morning of my fiftieth birthday 

I imagine myself gray and lean and on my way 

to an insurance symposium when a housewife pretending 

to be Grace Kelly mistakes me for Gary Grant. 

We talk ephemera as the maitre d' finds 
a nice table for us in the dining car. The scenery 
is a wonderful pastiche of the south of France, 
vintage 1955. A surly wine steward d' without thumbs 

pours a full-bodied champagne. The eggs appear, 
unmutilated and relaxed. The toast, stacked 
in the crisp layers of memory, succumbs 
to my infinite taste for benediction. 

My hand reaches for hers. She smiles 

as we touch, our fingers dancing in and out 

of each other's warmth as if, in that one mad instant, 

I have awakened from a long, terrible sleep. 

Jay A. Blumenthal 


I take long strides 

down aisle M, rushing to get to the job by 3. 

My lunch bucket and water jug bang 

against my thigh with every step. 

ice cubes rattle like snakes — 

iced tea today. 

This jug I call my friend and keep 

near me under my machine, 

sneaking a drink when I can. 

Santino asks what you got in there? 

Go juice I tell him. 

Go fuck yourself I mean . 

I can tell he's trying to smell my breath. 

I breathe heavy into his face. 

He shoves me away. Get back to work. 


At lunch I suck out of the jug, 

that cold breast easing my hot throat. 

The ice melts, usually 

before I drink it all down. 

A good half gallon 

and some days that's not enough — 

I refill it with water. 

At the end of the shift, 
my long strides, just as fast, 
headed to punch out. 
The jug dancing 
light off my leg. 

Jim Daniels 

friday [from "Work Week Variations"] 

missing work 

I'll take you to the park 
& bludgeon you to death 

okay I say & get in 

William Talcott 

A Convention of the Heart 

On the morning of my fiftieth birthday 

I imagine myself gray and lean and on my way 

to an insurance symposium when a housewife pretending 

to be Grace Kelly mistakes me for Cary Grant. 

We talk ephemera as the maitre d' finds 
a nice table for us in the dining car. The scenery 
is a wonderful pastiche of the south of France, 
vintage 1955. A surly wine steward d' without thumbs 

pours a full-bodied champagne. The eggs appear, 
unmutilated and relaxed. The toast, stacked 
in the crisp layers of memory, succumbs 
to my infinite taste for benediction. 

My hand reaches for hers. She smiles 

as we touch, our fingers dancing in and out 

of each other's warmth as if, in that one mad instant, 

I have awakened from a long, terrible sleep. 

Jay A. Blumenthal 


1 take long strides 

down aisle M, rushing to get to the job by 3. 

My lunch bucket and water jug bang 

against my thigh with every step, 

ice cubes rattle like snakes — 

iced tea today. 

This jug I call my friend and keep 

near me under my machine, 

sneaking a drink when I can. 

Santino asks what you got in there? 

Go Juice I tell him. 

Go fuck yourself I mean . 

I can tell he's trying to smell my breath. 

I breathe heavy into his face. 

He shoves me away. Get back to work. 


At lunch I suck out of the jug, 

that cold breast easing my hot throat. 

The ice melts, usually 

before I drink it all down. 

A good half gallon 

and some days that's not enough — 

I refill it with water. 

At the end of the shift, 
my long strides, just as fast, 
headed to punch out, 
The jug dancing 
light off my leg. 

Jim Daniels 

friday [from "Work Week Variations"] 

missing work 

I'll take you to the park 
& bludgeon you to death 

okay I say & get in 

William Talcott 

Paris, Blazey. 

You can only drive so far, y'know? 
You can drive to L.A. 

Where you'll pass a blue Skoda, swerving, 
Franz Kafka is on the freeway! 

Swerving in the margins — in anguish — 

he cuts you off! 

He's threatening you — it is still early 

afternoon, you can see the air — and it's suspended — 

hanging in clumps across the windshield. 

The pain was real, it hurt, it's Louis Armstrong. 

In the kitchen, she constructed a sandwich for herself 

using two pieces of wheat bread and a slice of Kraft headcheese. 

Franz Kafka is still on your tail, 
he will always be on your tail. 

He is passing you on the right now, waving his 
grimace out the window, he tosses an old typewriter 
into the back seat of your 4-door Hyundai and backfires. 

Paris, Blazey 


A man sat down at a cafe and noticed the checkered 
tablecloth was patterned after the Franco-Prussian war. He 
thought about the prisoners taken, the bullets spent and his 
great Uncle Harry. 

It must have been a helluva war, he remarked to the 
waitress. She agreed and pointed to a spot on the 
tablecloth where the last battle had been fought. 

That's where Uncle Harry got it, he told her. 

You must be very proud, she said. 

lam, he said. 

Rob Robertson 





I stand at the urinal 
pissing in one hand 

I have a coffee 

in the other for the love 

of a coat by andrei 
codrescu I read his poem 

against meaning all this time 
I'm pissing the boss 

walks in stands at the next 
urinal what you doing 

talcott recycling yourself 
I sip the coffee sneeze 

through my nose the boss 
wipes his shoes & leaves 

William Talcott 


A man with a briefcase 
strides down the aisle 
with his three-piece suit 
and shiny safety glasses. 

Some government guy 
somebody says at the break table. 
Company vice president 
somebody says in the John. 

He circles the plant 
staring at us like he's lost 
but too proud 
to ask directions. 

He steps around a grease puddle 
and gets the fairy wave 
behind his back 
from some of the men 
and women. 

We can't play keepaway with his briefcase 
can't dirty his clean clothes. 
We do what we know we must do: 
look busy. 

Jim Daniels 



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The faintly antiseptic aroma of the lab mingled with 
Morgen's fourth cigarette. A memo on the desk, 
siaiiifd with a solvent that had blurred its letters, was 
only the latest in a series ot paper missiles directed to 
the project leader Below the Mitsubishi-Bechtel-Bureau 
of Prisons letterhead was Morgen's name, yesterday's 
date and a red CLASSIFIED stamp covering the title 
of the report. Illegible now, the words were the focus of 
most of Morgen's waking hours: "AUTUMN CHILL: 
Piospect^ & Strategies in Biochemical Reinforcement 
of Behet Structures." A research project that had some- 
how survived the funding droughts for years, a project 
that had brought forth fruit. As ordered. And now the 
shit was really hitting the pujvcrbial air circulation device. 

Morgen got up and poured another cup of bitter, 
curiously tasteless commissary coffee and talked aloud. 
"Show me the second derivatives on the reported out- 
breaks, scale the time by, uhm, ten day periods." The 
computer responded with a terse "Working." 

Sitting down again, Moigen leaned towards the ter- 
minal, pushing the piles of paper to one side. The colored 
lines danced on the screen and a low, sexlessly cheerful 
voice recited the statistics. Morgen typed a brief com- 
mand and then placed a linger into the side of a silver 
box beside the terminal. Morgen's recitation of the recog- 
nition phrase triggered the analyzer, which verified the 
user's identity and recorded the current physiological 
state. Morgen spoke again: "Give me a factor analysis 
for variables of crowd size, city density, time and expo- 
sure. Route it to the Warden's office." 

Morgen's eyes wandered over the office. The place 
was filthy; the recent marathon sessions hadn't resulted 
in better maintenance. Through the window, mostly 
covered with announcements and cartoons, could be 
seen the other team members, engrossed in their tasks. 
Moigen typed for a moment, stood and walked out of 
the room. The computer shut oft the terminal and opened 
the door after verifying that Men gen was on the list of 
prisoners allowed to pass. 

The lab outside the office looked like any other airless 
research lab, lined with tlie endlessly complex machines 
that shuffled living strands of DNA. The prisoners who 
staffed the lab were mostly college graduates, grateful 
for the chance to avoid grimmer confinement. As their 
boss passed the technicians, wearing color-coded smocks 

and transponder bracelets, called out quiet greetings. 
Morgen passed through the double-walled airlock and 
signed out, joking with the guard, and walked down 
the hall. Morgen fingered a tattered cigarette pack, 
decided against it. Damned meetings! Even worse, the 
warden and the big bosses were looking for something 
to offer Washington. Morgen just fucking hated it. 
Damn! Well, it was too late to back out now. The die, 
as it were, was cast. 

The next guard was talking with someone about the 
riots as the video flashed images of wavering lines of 
National Guardsmen firing on crowds and then fleeing. 
"My sister lives over in Covina and she says that the 
news has got it all wrong. . . there wasn't more than five 
or six cases in her hospital all week, and the electricity 
only quit once for about an hour. But hell, look at that." 
The guard passed Morgen through the airlock to the 
administration building, and then resumed talking: 
"The Air Force is supposed to have grounded all its 
planes 'cause too many pilots were joyriding." 

Morgen went through several more check-points 
staffed by well-armed guards. The interior passages 
had security cameras and finger plates, while the guards 
stood in sealed rooms with automatic shot-guns mounted 
in turrets below bay windows. After another round of 
metal detectors and a UV decontamination bath, Mor- 
gen was facing the warden's secretary. 

"Oh, it's you, Morgen. The place has been dead this 
morning except for the feds. You got a smoke?" 

Morgen extended the pack; "The warden said some- 
thing about them. Who are they?" 

"Atlanta Center for Disease Control and some team 
from Fort Dietrich. Apparently everybody that's field- 
tested a virus in the last year is being checked. Some of 
the big commercial companies are completely shut down." 

"How are things on the outside? I mean, we hear about 
shortages and all . . . 

"Oh, well, maybe in some places things are bad, but 
I haven't had any trouble, except with like, lines for 
gasoline, and, uhm, soda pop and junk like that. Hey, 
I'd better tell the Wombat that you're here." She picked 
up the handset and listened. "He said that he'll be a few 
minutes." She turned back to her terminal. 

Morgen looked around the now familiar room. One 
office wall had an aerial photograph of the prison — the 

Page 40 


double razor-wire fences and squat towers 
betrayed nothing of the real purpose of 
the factory-like buildings. The low 
mounds around the prison held anti-air 
and anti-tank weapons, and the wide 
grassy playgrounds were seeded with anti- 
personnel mines. The commercial load- 
ing dock had the most visible activity as 
unmarked trucks loaded white boxes and 
drove away. The sections of the prison 
weren't identified, but Morgen knew 
most of them — had, in fact, helped build 
the prison years before, after being in- 
terned during the war riots. The most 
profitable area was located near the load- 
ing docks— the organ farm, in which 
condemned criminals were kept alive (as 
long as feasible) while surgeons snipped 
out whatever parts were currently re- 
quired. The food was good, the lighting 
subdued, the halls quiet, the atmosphere 
chilling. The huge library and white 
collar jobs, however, didn't change the 
carbines in the guard's hands into any- 
thing less lethal. The security that kept 
long-term prisoners "secure" also kept the 
corporate secrets safe. 

Morgen reread the spartan announce- 
ments on another wall: "Loyalty to Team, 
Loyalty to Company, Loyalty to State," 
and another, with crossed Japanese and 
US flags, exhorted "For the New Co- 
Prosperity Sphere— Everything!" Some 
felon, more daring than subtle, had 

scrawled "Fuck U" in what looked like 
blood. A third poster warned that theft 
was punishable by donor-hood. The 
fluorescent lights hummed, the air fil- 
tration ducts hummed, the secretary 
hummed, the phone hummed. The sec- 
retary picked it up, listened, waved 
Morgen in. 

The warden was sitting on a large sofa 
with a woman that Morgen didn't recog- 
nize. They were staring out at the Pefia 
Aha Rehabilitation Center, as the mixed 
venture prison was formally known. 
Morgen could just make out the dormi- 
tory where the researchers were housed. 
The swirling snow hid the grimmer bar- 
racks of the lab's experimental "animals." 
Morgen remained standing, as required 
by regulations, eyes lowered, half-relish- 
ing the familiar chest pain. On wet days 
the infirmary was swamped with middle- 
aged prisoners whose lungs had been 
seared by the government's gasses on 
those bright autumn days almost a decade 
before. The video was flashing images 
of riots and commentators. 

Several minutes later Ms Yaeger 
stormed into the room, trailing assistants. 
Pulling a chair opposite the sofa, she 
waved at Morgen to sit. Yaeger, in charge 
of all of the "Special Research Projects," 
was Mitsubishi's U.S. director. "The 
Cabinet is meeting this afternoon. All 
of the big cities have had serious dis- 

turbances, and the regular army is being 
ordered in; the National Guard units 
aren't responding. We've lost communi- 
cations with some areas. I just got off the 
phone with Hyodai, the chairman of 
MITL" The mention of the powerful 
Japanese government trade body visibly 
agitated the warden. "Peha Alta is our 
primary biological research station, so Fve 
asked the government to send us their 
best. Mrs. Sam, here, is the head of that 

"I'm from the Atlanta Center for Dis- 
ease Control Emergency Response Team. 
We are still trying to get a grasp on the 
actual source of contamination, whether 
the results are inherent in whatever was 
released, or if it was changed by some- 
thing in the wider environment. It cer- 
tainly does seem to be very similar to 
your T-Agent. 

"Your team is giving my assistants all 
the work notes and backups, but I would 
appreciate it if you could sketch your 
project for us." Mrs. Sam looked at Mor- 

Morgen shrugged, stood up, and 
started to pace. "As you know there have 
been tremendous advances made recently 
in human genetics. The map of the hu- 
man genome has finally become detailed 
enough to be of use, and the fight against 
AIDS in the last decade deepened our 
understanding. "AUTUMN CHILL" 
was part of a broad effort directed at be- 
havioral research and control." Morgen 
paused, lit a cigarette absently, and 
thought about the reality of such research. 
True, AIDS and many other viruses 
could be killed, and many genetic defects 
could be eliminated, but the advances in 
health care and longevity had been most- 
ly for the rich, and the genetic project 
had proved a boon primarily to penal 
psychologists and bio-social engineers. 
The move to make prisons more produc- 
tive, coinciding with the arrest or intern- 
ment of large numbers of technocrats 
had led to several labs similar to Pefia 

"We proceeded from the Watson- 
Nkruma retrovirus, mostly because it is 
a very stable platform, well-tested. We 
were after an agent that would increase 
learning speed, or retention, or both. We 
found several mechanisms immediately, 
but they were highly unspecific; The ex- 
perimental subjects learned very fast, 
permanently, but they 'learned' every- 
thu.g — every image, every sensation, 
every feeling was permanently engraved. 
Most of them became catatonic in a re- 
markably short time. It took us almost 
two years to find a selective trigger on 
a cellular level. We hit paydirt when we 
realized that the RNA sequences that 
coded for complex memories — what we 


Page 41 

call Rhienhold Fractal images — shared 
a common DNA base. We were able to 
create a catalyst that reinforced certaia 
behaviors. But we then hit a big prob- 
lem—there was incredible individual 
variation; we had to find a way to tailor 
it for an almost infinite range. That 
would account for your inability to get a 
handle on it, but it isn't uncommon — we 
borrowed from the herpes cure that 
Chu developed. Almost nothing that we 
did was new — we mostly put together 
existing bits and pieces. We had appro- 
val for the field tests, of course. That virus 
is going to be very hard to attack: it's 
made to elude all the body's standard de- 
fenses and to continuously alter its ap- 
pearance, what we call its "footprint." 
The thing is packed with codes— there 
are giga-bytes of information in there — 
really a miniature Turing machine, a 

Mrs. Sam interrupted, asking "Who 
were the first human subjects?" 

"In accordance with Bureau of Prison's 
regulations on inmate research, we were 

— the staff of the project. Of course we 
also had a group of normal subjects." 
Morgen picked up the remote control 
unit, turned the video off, and called up 
a computer display. "We were exposed 
on March 11th and had a three weeks' 
incubation. As you can see, all measure- 
ments are nominal, until the first week 
of April, when we see various increases 

— retention, scores, etc." 
"It looks to me as if you were all work- 
ing increased hours— did you account 
for that in your analysis?" asked Ms. 

"Yes, we did, and the improvements 
are still significant. We have found an 
increase in time worked in many sub- 
jects—the increased ease of learning seems 
to make the process more enjoyable." 

The discussion went on for hours, 
terrupted by phone calls, messengers, 
and once by the video, which showed in 
graphic detail a riot in Oklahoma City 
— farmers driving tractors over squad 
cars, bank clerks burning records, cops 
dancing in the streets. There were brief 
news-flashes from other cities: everywhere 
laughing crowds were gathering, occa- 
sionally stirred by rage, generally happy, 
very non-cooperative, and growing all 
the time. Around six in the evening 
there was a special report over the gov- 
ernment's private channel. It was clear— 
a mass paralysis of social function was 
setting in, albeit unevenly. Absenteeism 
was soaring, whole industries were silent. 
Various parts of the government were 

The prison's Central Kitchen hadn't 
folded yet, although the supply truck 
hadn't shown up on schedule and nobody 
answered the supply company's phone. 
Tonight's dinner was excellent, belying 
the chaos outside the prison. Morgen took 
a bite and almost choked— the flavor of 
real meat was shocking after so many 
meals of soya paste and Roast Beef, as 
the Beefbeasts® were called. A product 
of the biogeneticists, complete with their 
own sinew and hair rope to hang them by, 
the beasts were large blobs of almost 
boneless flesh, with rows of truncated 
limbs hanging like flippers. Generically 
beef, pork or chicken (by segment), they 
grew suspended in large warehouses and 
provided most of the country's excess 
calories. Morgen almost gagged on the 
real thing, but covered up gracefully. 
The wine bottle kept coming back — 
courtesy of a friendly waiter— and Mor- 
gen took advantage of it. 

Yaeger and Sam couldn't understand 
why the virus hadn't caused the carnival- 
like and wildly destructive behavior in 


Morgen's team. The discussion was wide- 
ranging but inconclusive. The tentative 
consensus was that the outside environ- 
ment had mutated the AUTUMN CHILL 
virus into something much more sinister 
than it was designed to be; perhaps some 

other artificial virus had combined with 
it. It was late night when Morgen was 

After being taken back to the experi- 
mental unit, Morgen went to the lab. 
The guard was used to late nights by 
Morgen's team and didn't even look up. 
Morgen waved the team into the back 
office. They crowded in, closing the door 
and turning on a radio while Morgen 
tinkered with the computer. A bottle of 
distilled spirits had been added to orange 
drink, and Morgen proposed a toast: 
"AUTUMN CHILL: our success!" There 
was a resounding cheer. 

The radio in the background talked 
about rationing, then read a long list of 
units being called up from the Reserves. 
The prison intercom had already an- 
nounced that there would be no break- 
fast. Morgen laughed out loud: "Just think 
of the irony — we starve here in our lab 
because of our little joke! What a punish- 

"Hey, better than what will happen 
if the goons figure this all out!" called 

They drank more, laughing over the 
project's wildly successful conclusion. 
Amid the babble Morgen was typing an 
entry in a private file, protected from 
almost any intruder by encryption and 
deft tinkering with the computer system. 

"This entry may well be the last before 
the computer system fails or the project 
collapses, so I am adding a few private 
notes to supplement the regular log of 

"The problem was to find a trigger for 
the process, something that would trigger 
the genetic reinforcers, something that 
would deeply effect the organism. We 
soon discovered, as has been noted, that 
any strong emotion would work, and 
that the subject would learn to repeat the 
process. Our team found that the best 
trigger, the most effective, was fun, en- 
joyment. The virus in turn reinforced 
those patterns that people found fun; 
movies, partying, drugs, or kicking ass." 

The strident voice of the announcer 
was replaced by a more soothing tone: 
"In other news tonight, the US Weather 

Page 42 


Service is predicting a Stage V Acid Rain 
alert for the San Diego-LA area. In a 
minute, we'll be back with an interview 
with Texas' new $80 million lottery win- 

'It was necessary to make reports to 
the warden and the company. Those re- 
ports had to conceal as much as they re- 
vealed; had to slightly misstate the be- 
haviors that we would reinforce. Perhaps 
our formally-minded bosses couldn't read 
between the lines; perhaps they felt that 
the values being reinforced were those of 
obedience, sacrifice and hard work. Cer- 
tain project workers excelled at providing 
our official smoke-screen. 
' "The first test was required to be on 
ourselves— and we like our work! We 
worked yet harder to finish the project 
on schedule, on budget. Productivity 
soared: we explained it by phrases that 
our bosses would understand. We 
launched a project of sabotage that would 
avenge years of prison, banishment and 

"I am writing these words in the hope 
that some record of this project may en- 
dure, that some understanding of what 
has happened to the world may be pre- 
served. It was not the result of accident 
or of error." 

One of the workers was standing on a 
file cabinet, raising a glass: "Friends! 
Regardless of the cost: We have won!" 
The crowd cheered again. 

The radio, almost inaudibly, was re- 
vealing the collapse of cities— shortages 
or disaster emptying some, others just 
vacated by a populace that had found 
something better to do. Morgen couldn't 
begin to imagine what was going to hap- 
pen, or what the world would be like. But 
there would be a world, and it would just 
have to be a whole lot more fun than this 

Smiling, Morgen signed off the com- 
puter, said goodnight and walked back 
to the dorms, feeling like a kid on 
Christmas Eve. 

by Primitivo Morales 

The hottest places in hell are 
reserved for those who, in time of 
great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality. 

Dante 1265-1321 





black and blue on 

glossy, heavy paper 



Processed World 
41 Sutter Street 


San Francisco 




Page 43 



1 . breakfast 

\J bacon, eggs, toast. 

i coffee? yes, the machine 

begins its automatic brewing process 

in the dark kitchen, dick is on his back 

underneath a Pennsylvania dutch quih 

(wife had made), the aroma of maxwell 

house wafts under the bedroom door. 

soon the buzzer sounds, 5:12 EST, dick had 

chosen this precise minute (reason undisclosed, 

even to him: clockhand of god or somesuch being) 

dick makes this staccato bird-sound with a half- narcotized 
baritone, his feet out-distance the quilt, he wiggles his 


the buzzer sounds again, coffee aroma is stronger than 
ever, purses his lips, counterpoint, a sunrise in his head, 
eyes creaking apart/ great gates oh God/ great 
gates of kiev. the whole world shudders, mechanicsburg 
wakes up with dick, the marionette master has the usual, 
hand wiping sleep from face, stopping the buzzer, toes 
jostle the quilt, his wife turns over as if by the command 
of a marionette marine/master/marine, dick turns, sits 
up in bed. hand wipes sleep from face, encore, dick slips 
into prepositioned slippers (prepositioned: war reserve:: 
phrases that ricochet in his consciousness), he grabs 
horn-rims from night-table, follows the coffee aroma to 
its genesis, his slippers slide on the dimlit linoleum (oh 
God/ great general electric kitchen), mr. coffee is almost 
finished performing, it says 5:17. dick scratches his 
head with its carrot-top shock of hair, 
"well. . .smells good, yup-yup." 

dick reaches for the large mug hanging on a rack on the 
counter, he lifts the pyrex pot (oh God/ technology), he 
pours, satisfies the hearty cup, puts pot back, slips over 
to the turquoise refrigerator, opens, uses milk on coffee. 

small slurp. 

"well. . .tastes good, yup-yup." 
dick drinks it down. 

bacon, eggs, toast? no, shower first, dick leaves mug on 
kitchen table next to the telephone, heads for bathroom, 
takes his 12,000th shower, he thinks of the building 
he'll be working at, how rectangular everything in it is. 
desks are exactly parallel and equidistant, dick likes 
this, sometimes it's difficult to tell what section one's in. 
dick thinks of being temporarily lost in the labyrinth, 
remembers finding his way by the unique configuration 
of vending machines at uniform intersections. . . 

Page 44 


. . . already he looks forward to wearing 
down the requisitions, chuckling with co- 
horts, that's enough shower, now out, 
urinate golden into bowl, shave? yes, he 
must although he didn't on occasion and 
felt the worse for it, paranoiacally 
imagining that all eyes were turned upon 
hun. disapproval, he didn't feel blended 
. .blended (echo). 

' "yup-yup." 

(lick wraps a towel around himself and 
moves back to the bedroom, his pants 
for this day are the same pants he wore 
m college: monotone sea-green cotton, 
he boasts that they still fit him, but ac- 
tually it's a false boast since they are too 
big for him now. so he slips them on and 
uses the last notch on his belt so the end 
Hops around, shit I? short-sleeved sears 
[polyester It. brown with green rectangles, 
ham with green beans, dick remembers 
the cafeteria menu, well, no chicken pot 
pie this week, but ham with green beans, 
bacon eggs, toast? yes, dick is dressed 
and ready for breakfast, he summons his 
wife from her sleep, 
"how about a little breakfast there?" 
"alright, i'll get up. alright, i'll get up. 
alright, i'll get up." peter's denial. 

I "yup-yup." 

dick fills his coffee mug, wife separates 
the bacon, eggs with spatula with an al- 
most marionette-like motion, 
toast? yes. wife gets it and serves it to dick, 
dick penetrates a freshly-cooked egg yolk 
with his eyes closed, something in his 
fondest foggiest memory urges him to keep 
stabbing the innocent yolk with his fork 
until its ooze is predominant, until philo- 
sophy/jerk/philosophy is concentrated in 
the triumph of essence over form, but 
dick withdraws, shovels the remnants 
into his mouth. 

suddenly dick is jerked from the table, 
"well. . .off to work, bye dear." 
"you stay away from that harriet, she's a 
ham and green beans fanatic ..." 
"awwww. . . " 
' i mean it!" 
"alright, dear, bye." 
kiss, wife has bags under her eyes. 6:03. 

2. the new pile 

there's a new pile of rectangular requisi- 
I ions on dick's desk. 

'well. . . yankelovich must've brought me 
.( present . . . something." 

dick signs in at 6:30 and assumes his 
work position, besides the requisitions, 
his desk sports the following articles: photo 
of wife, boy and girl with fake gold frame 
(chicken with dumplings), large ceramic 
coffee mug (made by girl), rubber cup 
with pens, pencils, staple remover, the 
requisitions have green rectangles with 
alphanumeric characters in them, dick 
lifts the first one and examines it care- 
fully, with an almost scientific intensity, 
"morning, dick." 
it's the guy with the weird beard, 
"morning, dick." 
it's Stacy, miss proper, 
"morning, dick." 
it's chuck, the short fat one. 
(three times/ oh god the denial) 
dick scrutinizes boxes 3,5,7,11,13,29 and 
37. there are variant possibilities he 
thinks that this requisition is a good one, 
ready for processing, he double (hecks, 
he takes a red felt-tip pen and makes a 
little check mark, he begins a new new 
pile, the codes on the requisitions in the 
new new pile are funny, somehow, dick 
chuckles, he tilts his head like a curious 
beagle, phones begin to ring in an alea- 
toric and microtonal fashion, somewhere 
behind the partition a woman with a 
cigarette-creaky voice says "you know 
they got ham and green beans at the 
cafeteria today." 

3. reverie 

after the new nevs pile is completed, dick 
time travels to his college days: wearing 
same sea green trousers, sitting under- 
neath a slightly-turned shady oak. anthro- 
pology text and notebook in hand a cool 
September breeze blows through his carrot- 
top, he shudders with the breeze, it is 
ominous: dick thinks this instantaneously, 
as if the force of the sudden thought was 
the ejaculation of a shower's cold faucet 
on a morning face, in this first semester 
of his college career, most of his thoughts 
had come to him in this eruptive fashion: 
a crisp, clean attack, then a long delay 
trailing off like a blind and senile mut- 
tering, the thoughts like tiny ping-pong 
balls slowly got him into the habit of 
issuing a short hiccup-like affirmation of 

the very first time, he heard it as an in- 
voluntary echo and felt his whole body 
gently titillated, there were millions of 
tiny fish hooks under the skin, attached 
to angelic/disciplinaiy/gossamer filament, 
extending into the heavens, at once 


god(s) became attached to dick, he fon- 
dles his anthropology text, puts it between 
his legs, pages enclose his erection, the 
(tongue) (all the senses): wonderfully 
given by the marionette master, con- 
struction of pyramids in his heart/ slow 
escape down the nile/ three times a wit- 
ness, dick visualizes a giant ham on the 
easter table, a puppet football huddle, 
ready, sacrifice ...123... 
:jerk, yup, jerk: 

4. the intern 

"morning, dick." 
it's the boss. 

"oh, morning, bill, we got visitors there?" 
"dick, this young man is an intern from 
Washington who will be with us for. . . 
how many days was it, three or four?" 
"just today." 

"i thought it was three or four. . .oh well, 
we really don't have three or four days 
of information to give you anyway." 

"well, i'm going to sit you with dick for 
this morning and then after lunch feel 
free to bother each and every one of our 
item managers." 

the boss goes to his cubicle, dick pulls 
up a chair for the intern and the lesson 

"well" goes dick — "what's your name there?" 
"jerry lee." 

"oh, that sounds like a southern name." 
pause, 23 seconds, 
"you from the south?" 

"what's your last name there?" 

"oh . oh . . oh! i thought it was like jerry 
lee lewis or something like that." 
"no, my last name's lee." 
"well" dick says, "robert e. lee, wasn't he 
a confederate general or something?" 
"i'm not from the south." 
"i guess not." 
silence, 27 seconds. 8:37. 
"well . . . what i do is check off these requi- 
sitions after i look in the right boxes and 
see that everything's o.k." 
"what are you looking for?" 
"oh . . . lots of things." 
"like what?" 

"oh, well if boxes 7, 11 and 15 don't 
have the same signal code and 29 and 37 
don't have the right response codes and 
the unit price is under $1000, then i 

Page 45 

have to reject it unless there's a priority 
indicator in 1 1 ." 

dick smiles at his ability to interpret the 
rectangles, he chuckles, the intern i§ 

"do you bowl?" dick says, 

"you don't bowl?" 

"h'mm . . . you sure you don't bowl?" 
"no, not at all. i tried it once or twice, 
but no, i am not a current bowler." 
"isn't that a little unusual ..." 

"well, it seems to me you'd be meeting 
lots of pretty girls if you bowled." 

"oh yeah . . . my cousin up in duncannon 
met his wife in a bowling alley. . .turns 
out she was sterile so he divorced her six 
months later." 
"maybe i'll try it again." 
"yeh. yup-yup." 

counterfxjint now, cacaphonic phone sym- 
phony/ circus boss big-headed/ white hair 
broods over managerial documents, 

dick ruffles his carrot-top, chuckles, 
"so where's your home?" dick says. 
"well, originally, i'm from new york." 
"oh. . .york. i've got a cousin in york, 
works as an exterminator." 
"no, new york." 

"oh, way over there, boy, that's a long 
way from here ... so where's your home?" 
"well, i live in mechanicsburg now." 
"oxford manor." 

"oh, i live in Windsor park there. . .have 
for thirty years, then we're neighbors." 
"i guess so. . ." 

dick's head bobs up and down, 
"so, you're an intern, where are you 
supposed to wind up?" 
"beats me." 

"oh, that doesn't sound very comforting." 
"yeah, i travel a lot." 
"do you have to fly?" 

"then what's it like on an airplane? i've 
never been on one, nope." 
"well ..." 

"i've seen 'em in the movies, but never 
been on one, nope." 
"well . . . they're fast" the intern replies, 
"matter of fact, i've never been on the 
other side of the mississippi. been to mil- 
waukee on a bus trip, though ..." 
silence, 24 seconds. 9:03. 

"so. . where do these requisitions come 

"i don't know . . . yankelovich just puts 'em 

"you don't know where they come from?" 
"nope, sure don't, i just look at 'em and 
check 'em off then yankelovich takes 'em 
away and that's the last i see 'em." 
"then how do you know what your impact 
on the system is?" 

"what's that there . . . impact on the system?" 

dick tilts his head to the side, beagle- 
fashion, looks around the room, chuckles, 
"i guess the boss knows more about it 
than i do. . .that's why he's the boss. . . 
yup-yup." (oh god(s)/vicious hands of 
marionette master/ a dead witness.) 
dick rubs his shirt with the rectangles on 

"can i get out of here early for lunch?" 
the intern asks. 

"well . . . guess there's not much more for 
me to tell you anyway. . .yup-yup, that's 
all i do, is sit here and check off these 
requisitions. . ." dick chuckles, "i guess 
now you can go bother someone else." 

5. lunch 

xeroxed men on the nearest bulletin 
board, "yup-yup." ham and green beans, 
$1.75. dick chuckles at 12:01. harriet is 
in his mind/ he is related to harriet/ har- 
riet loves ham and green beans, three 
times the devil, dick bows his head while 
crossing the railroad tracks between the 
gray buildings, he is lost in a flock of 
silent servants, likened to the blind and 
ancient faithful, they travel with reverence 
to a greater good which devours the 
vociferous, harriet is exactly in the mid- 
dle of the cafeteria, in the dmz between 
smoking and non-smoking. she 
weighs 300, and stuffs her cheeks with 
salad, dick says "hello there," but she has 
her mouth full of lettuce and russian salad 
dressing, she grunts hello, a little bit of 
the dressing oozes over her lower lip. dick 
sits down across from her. they both have 
ham and green beans, roll and butter 
and personal choice of beverage, they 
look at each other for a seemingly inter- 
minable period of time, as if waiting for 
the duel to start, dick looks at the clock 
and says "oh. . .hell." he stabs the ham 
slab with his knife and a jet of greasy 
juice squirts over his shirt, 

harriet chuckles, devours the ham slab 
in three serpentine mouthfuls. dick 
mushes his green beans. 
"well, how about it?" 
"no" replies harriet. 
"are you sure?" 


harriet squeezes a roll in her sweaty 

"then when?" 
"i don't know." 
"the \9thr 

"no, chicken pot pie." 
"can't miss bott bie. the 20th?" 
"hershey park." 
"the 21 5/?" 

"ham and green beans." 
oh god/ three times a false witness. 

6. afternoon break 

14:01. dick notices that an angel cake 
has been brought in and placed on an 
empty desk, he thinks of choruses of 
ejaculating cocks, of an inter-office sex 
tableau with the bosses as the instigators, 
under the tree/ anthropology waiting/ 
gold giftwatch around his cock, cold sor- 
rowful face in the concrete bathroom, he 
is almost through with another pile of 
requisitions, impoverished people, march 
to the corner for inanity drill/ dick tra- 
vels to the coffee mess, fills the next spot 
in line. 

"so. . .how many cups a day of that do 
you drink there?" dick asks guy with the 
beard suggestive of a tortured russian 

"i drink without counting, my marine 
d.i. said 'if you're gonna do something, 
do it all the way. if you're gonna drink 
beer, drink a hundred beers, if you're 
gonna smoke, smoke a goddamn carton 
of camel-nons down 'til they burn your 

"never was in the marines, was in the 
army for two years, peeled some potatoes" 
dick says. 

"oh, the army." guy dismisses the army 
with a wave of his hand, guy pours from 
the pyrex pot (three times technology), 
first into dick's cup and then his own. 
"you know something, dick? i would have 
as soon killed myself as go in the army . . . 
i wouldn't put my dog in the army!" 
"well. . ." dick chuckles, shuffles his feet, 
rubs his carrot-top. 

"hey guy . . . maybe we can bowl together 
sometime . . . ?" 

7. going home 

dick completes his last scrutiny of the day. 
he rubs his rectangle shirt at the spot 
where the ham juice squirted, 
"yup-yup. well . . . time to go home." 
the short fat one, chuck, approaches, 
"what do you say there, dick. . .do you 
^bowl tonight?" 
"nope, nope, wife's fixin' bott bie." 

Pag» 40 


"oh, bott bie. sounds like a treat to me. 
your wife make it from scratch?" 
"yup-yup. matter of fact she goes down 
to konhaus farms and picks out the 
"you mean ..." 

"yup. she slaughters and plucks it clean, 
saves a lot of money, too. once my cousin 
used to raise 'em but he gave that up for 
being an exterminator." 
"oh . . . insects and that." 
"all kinda bugs, even does rats and kit- 
tens there." 

"that sounds a little harder, to extermi- 
nate a rat then." 

"well . . . they send 'em to school for that." 
"is that so?" 

"yup-yup." dick's head bobs up and down, 
"is that some kind of college or some- 
thing . . " 

"nope, trade school, they teach you all 
about poisons." 

"mmmm . . . maybe my boy can learn 
some of that." 

"yeah, the slaughterhouse business isn't 
too good these days ..." 
"oops, past three there, i better sign out 
and leave." 

"well, see you tomorrow then." 

on the way out, dick meets his boss, 
"what do you know, dick?" 

he continues walking in the same silent 
horde, his head bows while crossing the 
railroad tracks, appropriate, sings in his 
head he does. likened to the blind and 
ancient navigators, brains are squishy 
says a purple oracle/ cross-indexed with 
future imaginations, a day creaking a 
little more closed, oh/ god/ great gates of 
dick's perceptions, of kiev, or stabbed 
chicken kiev oozing butter. . .of this in- 
stallation, three times the devil, triplicate 
rumors abound, secretaries do 2-3 kick 
turns, juggle boss' head in perfect rhythm, 
dick passes the gate, weather report 
comes on. 

monday: partly cloudy 

tuesday: partly sunny 

Wednesday: cloudy cloudy 

oh god/ the hands of that marionette 


dick drives past the dog food plant. 

8. supper bell 

chicken pot pie? yes, in three homes on 
this block alone, dick dreams of a chicken's 
scrawny neck and his cousin's new vcr. 
the leaves are just yellow, dick thinks of 
his payroll savings plan: extermination 


school for the kids, 

dick drives his car up to the garage, the 
dog runs out to meet him. 
"what do you know there, dog? we're 
having bott bie and maybe we can give 
you some leftovers, put it in your rec- 
tangular dish." 

dick walks into the house and greets wife, 
boy and girl, 
"hello dear." 
"hello dear." 
"how was your day?" 
"good, how was your day?" 
"good, mow the lawn?" 
"no, that's Saturday, isn't it?" 
"oh that's right, monday partly cloudy, 
bott bie." 

dick hears a serenade in his head, he 
imagines the callouses on the hands of 
the marionette master, he wanders out- 
side, looks both ways. 15:33. 
"i guess the weatherman was right." 
* * * 

wife rings a bell. 

"supper's on!" 

"come on kids" dick says. 

dick plays with his carrot-top. 

"supper's on!" 

"come on, kids!" 

silence, 31 seconds. 

"supper's on!" 

dick says the grace, he bows his head, 

just like when crossing the railroad tracks. 

wife, boy and girl join in. 

"dear lord, 

please don't fry us, bake us, 
broil or roast us; dismember, 
maim or suffocate us, just be- 
cause we do it to lower forms 
of animal life, amen." 

"pass the milk" dick says. 

"i see that stain" wife says. 

"oh. . . i'm sorry." 

"ham and green beans! ham and green 
beans! all over your nice sears shirt!" 
"i'm sorry, dear, you know what cousin 
harriet can do with her eyes, she makes 
the food come alive like what do you call 
it there. . ." 

"yup-yup. she's a 300-pound container 
of accent." 

"ham and green beans, how could you, 

"i'm awful sorry. . . i would have mowed 
the lawn ..." 

"and after i slaughter and pluck a kon- 
haus hen, you show up with ham stains 
on the rectangle shirt i gave you for your 
25th anniversary of federal service! the 

the chicken pot pie is getting restless, 
coming to life. 

"well, it was on special at the cafeteria 

and i couldn't help it ... " 

"you have no self-discipline, dick, face it. 

that's why you're still in rectangles while 

all the other men in the neighborhood 

are working with pentagons." 

"yeh, i suppose 5 is better than 4. . . i feel 

so ashamed." 

"what's a pentagon, mommy and daddy" 

boy and girl chime. 

"oh . . . it's a litde too difficult for you to 

understand . . . maybe when you're both 


graphic by JRS 

the chicken pot pie explodes, ejaculates 
its contents on the entire family, dick 
wipes the gravy from his glasses, 
silence, 3,021 seconds. 

9. bedtime 

partly cloudy, chicken pot pie, ejacula- 
tion, dick penetrates his wife and goes off 

"yup-yup. well ... if i don't have pentagons, 
at least i have that." 
"more, dear." 

"sorry, looks like the pot's empty. . . time 
to sleep anyhow." 
"more, dear." 

"dear, how was the bott bie?" 
dick snores, his pajamas smell of cling- 
free sheets, he dreams of geometry, anti- 
cipates bacon, eggs, toast, coffee, 
later he talks in his sleep: 
"by the way, do you bowl? . . . yup-yup." 

by Dorothy Hamill 


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